MISRATA, Libya (Reuters) - A suicide car bomber blew himself up at a checkpoint near Libya’s western Misrata city on Thursday, killing two guards, state news agency LANA quoted a military source as saying.
The attack, claimed by Islamic State, targeted forces from the port city whose troops are allied with a self-declared government controlling the capital Tripoli and western Libya.
Islamic State forces have profited from Libya’s turmoil, four years after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, to gain a foothold in the north African country while two rival governments battle for power and Libya’s oil wealth.
Thursday’s attack “led to the killing and wounding of the enemies of God,” Islamic State said in a message on Twitter. A Reuters reporter saw several damaged cars at the checkpoint on the road east of Misrata towards Sirte, a central city seized by Islamic State in recent months.
Misrata forces had fought with Islamic State on Wednesday in Sirte. At least one person was killed and seven wounded.
Islamic State militants have in recent months claimed responsibility for several attacks including the storming of a Tripoli hotel and the murder of dozens of Egyptian and Ethiopian Christians.
Libya’s internationally recognized government and elected parliament have been based in the east since a rival faction seized the capital in August and reinstated a previous assembly.
Islamic State for its part has also built up a presence in Derna, an eastern city known as jihadi hotspot, and the main eastern city of Benghazi.
Reporting by Ahmed Elumami and Omar Fahmy; Writing by Patrick Markey and Ulf Laessing; editing by Andrew Roche