A suicide bomber has killed eight Libyan army troops near the eastern city of Benghazi, an attack that showed the ISIS group is still able to strike out in the North African country despite recent battlefield losses, Libyan security and health officials said Monday.
The Sunday bombing in the besieged Ganfouda area was a counterattack on the advancing troops that also wounded another eight soldiers, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombing in a statement circulated online, releasing images of an explosion hitting parked vehicles and buildings it said was taken from a drone.
“The fighting in Ganfouda is in its last stage, and terrorist group leaders are besieged inside,” army spokesman Ahmed al-Mosmari said. Ganfouda is one of the last two terrorist-held areas in Libya’s east, besieged by Libyan army troops that answer to Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter.
Earlier this month, the ISIS terrorist group lost control the city of Sirte, the militants’ main stronghold in Libya, essentially ending any near-term ambitions to expand their self-styled caliphate.
But that victory has opened the door for multiple armed factions to potentially turn on each other in a scramble for control of Libya’s vast oil wealth, the country’s only source of real revenue.
A U.N.-brokered peace deal was reached a year ago, trying to establish a unity government to end the chaos that has plagued Libya since the ouster and death of Moammar Gadhafi in a 2011 civil war.