“ Islamic State” (IS) claimed the killing of “tens” Friday in eastern Libya in retaliatory operations against the Egyptian airstrike launched in coordination with Libyan government last week.
Several media outlets reported the death toll to be above 40, and injuries to be at least 70.
The internationally-recognised interim Libyan government led by Abdullah Al-Thinni condemned the attack in an official statement. It noted that the attack targeted Al-Qubbah security directorate and a gas station with car bombs.
The statement added that the Libyan army will continue the strikes against IS targets.
According to a Friday statement by “Islamic State”, the attack was implemented using two car bombs that “killed and injured tens in revenge for the bloodshed of Muslims in the city of Derna”.
The attack was also condemned by the US and the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), as it left at least 45 dead, according to a UN statement. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also strongly condemned the multiple bombings and expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the victims.
Egypt and Libya’s interim government jointly launched airstrikes on the city of Derna in Libya following the beheading of 20 Coptic Egyptians on Libyan territories. The act was claimed by “Islamic State” affiliates in Libya, and condemned worldwide.
Militant activity in response to the airstrikes has been taking place in different parts of Libya, including an attack on the Libyan city of Zintan, allied with the internationally-recognised Libyan government, and its airport, which was scheduled to transport Egyptians from western Libya for their safety Wednesday, according to state-run MENA.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi noted in interview with France’s Europe 1 channel, aired last week, that Egypt was” careful to not interfere militarily in Libya”. However the attacks came in response to the “brutal crimes”.
The Libyan government reiterated, along with Egypt, their call to the UN Security Council to lift the arms embargo imposed on Libya since 2011. It will allow Libya to import weapons only with the approval of a Security Council committee, to fight “Islamic State” in Libya. Egypt has also called for the UN Security Council to mandate a resolution for an international intervention in Libya.
During the UN Security Council meeting held Wednesday, Britain highlighted the “need for a unified government” for the embargo to be lifted.
US Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki added that the US “continues to believe that in Libya a political solution, one that is non-intervention, is the right path forward”.
Meanwhile, Jordan also circulated a resolution calling for the removal of conditions on the import of weapons by Libya’s government, and pushing for it to be supplied with “necessary security assistance”, according to Reuters.
Libya has been suffering from political division since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011. Two opposing governments are currently operating in Libya, whereby the internationally-recognised government in Tobruk in eastern Libya is opposed by another led by Omar Al-Hasi in Tripoli in western Libya.
Al-Hasi’s government is against the Egyptians airstrikes on the Libyan territories, and called for the UNSC “to stop the Egyptian air force aggression on Libyan sovereignty”.