BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Islamic State has executed and displayed the bodies of four members of a rival group which had staged a revolt against the militants in the central Libyan city of Sirte, residents said.
Islamic State has crushed in the past few days a revolt by a Salafist Muslim group and armed residents trying to break its grip on the city, located some 500 km to the east of Tripoli. As many as 70 people have been killed, according to residents.
As a warning to others, Islamic State killed four fighters from the rival side and hung their corpses on metal gibbets for public display, four residents told Reuters. Pictures on social media, whose authenticity could not be verified, showed two bodies hanging from a gibbet.
Islamic State militants, who have gained a foothold in Libya by exploiting chaos and a security vacuum, also destroyed houses in Sirte belonging to rival fighters, residents said.
The fighting typifies the chaos in Libya, where two rival governments and parliaments, together with an assortment of Islamists, tribesmen and armed groups, are battling for control of cities and regions, four years after the fall of veteran leader Muammar Gaddafi.
In separate violence on Sunday, unknown gunmen fired on the airport of the main eastern city Benghazi, partly destroying a passenger terminal, the airport’s director said. The airport has been closed since last year due to ongoing fighting between forces loyal to the official government and Islamist groups.
Rockets also landed in a residential district in the eastern city of Derna, from which Islamic State was expelled by a rival group in June, residents said. Islamic State started an offensive last week to try retake the port city, a hot spot for jihadi fighters.
The internationally recognized government has been based in eastern Libya since losing control of the capital Tripoli a year ago to a rival group, which set up its own administration.
On Saturday, the official government asked fellow Arab states to stage air strikes against Islamic State in Sirte, Gaddafi’s hometown, which neither Libyan government controls.
The Arab League will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday in Cairo to discuss the situation in Libya, Egyptian state television said.
Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; Additional reporting by Ahmed Tolba in Cairo; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Digby Lidstone