Benghazi, Feb 27: A car bomb killed five members of security forces loyal to Libya's recognised government in the eastern city of Benghazi, officials said, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.
Military spokesman Colonel Abdullah al-Shahaafi told AFP yesterday that the blast in the Hawari district of the city killed four pro-government forces. But LANA news agency which is close to the recognised government said five members of the security forces were killed.
IS claimed the attack in a statement posted on Islamist websites, saying that more than 25 were killed and that it targeted forces of General Khalifa Haftar, the recognised government's chief of staff. Haftar's forces on Tuesday recaptured a jihadist stronghold in the Mediterranean city.
LANA also reported yesterday that the death of a sixth member of the security forces of the recognised government in a landmine blast in Benghazi.
Elsewhere in Libya, the defence ministry of the Tripoli-based unrecognised government said in a statement that its security forces had driven IS fighters out of the city of Sabratha. The city west of the capital had been the scene of fierce fighting earlier this week between IS and forces loyal to the Tripoli administration.
Tripoli's defence ministry said several IS fighters were captured and that most were Tunisians. On Wednesday, IS killed 18 people in clashes as they briefly occupied the heart of Sabratha before being ousted by militia fighters, according to officials in Tripoli.
A US air strike near Sabratha last week targeted a suspected IS training camp, killing 50 people. Serbia said two of its diplomats being held hostage were among the dead. IS has taken advantage of growing chaos to expand its foothold in Libya.
The oil-rich North African nation has had two rival authorities since mid-2014 when the recognised government was forced to quit Tripoli after the Fajr Libya militia alliance, which includes Islamists, overran the capital.
The United Nations has been pushing both sides to back a unity government on the basis of a UN-brokered agreement struck in December, to end years of turmoil since the 2011 ouster of dictator Moamer Kadhafi.