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Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Deadly Suicide Bombing in Libya

At least six people — including several women and children — were killed Sunday in a bombing at a security checkpoint near the Libyan city of Misrata.

by Gillian Mohney
Apr 5 2015, 4:50pm

Photo via Mohamed Ben Khalifa/AP

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing Sunday that killed at least six people — including several women and children — at a security checkpoint near the Libyan city of Misrata.

At least 21 people were injured in the attack, according to LANA News Agency, an outlet affiliated with the Libyan government in Tripoli. According to AFP, the Islamic State's Al-Bayan radio identified the bomber as a Sudanese man named Abu Dujana.

The Islamic State is mainly based in Syria and Iraq, but militants in Libya, Afghanistan, and Yemen have claimed affiliation with the extremist group in recent months. The Misrata bombing was reportedly the work of the Islamic State's notorious Tripolitania branch, which previously posted a gruesome video that showed the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya. The beheading victims were mostly Egyptian, and Egypt responded by launching airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Libya.

Related: Chaos in Libya provides fertile ground for Islamic State propaganda 

Libya has grappled with violence and chaos since the fall of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. The country is essentially split between the internationally recognized government that fled Tripoli for the city of Tobruk, near the Egyptian border, and Dawn of Libya, a loose coalition of Islamist militias that took over the capital last August. 

Misrata, the site of the bombing Sunday, is located about 150 miles northwest of Sirte, a coastal city that has seen numerous skirmishes between Islamic State affiliates and Dawn of Libya forces. At least 11 oil fields in the area have been shut down due to Islamic State attacks. Groups pledging allegiance to Islamic State also took credit for a suicide bombing last month at a Tripoli police station, as well as a series of suicide bombings in Benghazi.

Workers in Misrata were seen repairing the blast site just hours after the incident, plastering and painting over shrapnel damage to a bridge crossing the checkpoint, bulldozing dirt into a large crater, and dragging the burned-out skeleton of a bus clear of the road.

Dawn of Libya's Misrata-based 166 brigade is currently working to oust the Islamic State from positions in and around Sirte. Brigade commander Mohammed Hassan told VICE News his forces launched an attack Saturday night that killed a number of Islamic State fighters, including foreigners from Tunisia and Mauritania. The 166 brigade has imposed a curfew on the city and asked residents to stay away from areas where clashes have been taking place, Hassan added. 

On Sunday, the internationally recognized government launched airstrikes against Dawn of Libya sites near Tripoli, an air force defense official told Reuters, but no deaths or injuries were reported.

Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni has said his government will soon start depositing revenues from oil sales abroad in order to divert money and resources from Dawn of Libya, according to Reuters.

VICE News' Giulia Aloisio and Alice Speri contributed to this report.

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