Bani Walid security kills four IS militants

By Jamie Prentis.

Tunis, 26 May 2017:

Security forces have clashed with fighters from the so-called Islamic State (IS) near Bani Walid, killing four of them, reports say. Another two were arrested.

Earlier this week there were reports from Benghazi that IS had established a base near Abu Grain, halfway between Misrata and Sirte, and which Misratan forces recaptured from IS a year ago. According to sources, IS fighters and black flags were to be seen in the area.

The same sources meanwhile claimed that most of the fighters were non-Libyan and came from countries such as Chad and Mali and had been threatening local people as well as stealing cash, goods and medicines.

Following the defeat of IS in Sirte at the end of last year, military analysts have regularly warned of the possibility of it regrouping elsewhere in Libya, albeit in reduced numbers. General Thomas Waldhauser, head of Africom, the US’ Africa Command, repeated that warning when he addressed a US Senate panel in March, and US military experts have continued to issue warnings since then.

One Abu Grain resident now in Benghazi, says that the militants are not based in any one place for any length of time, however. Comparing them to locusts, he said that they had raided a number of villages in search of food and booty, but then left.

Three weeks ago, IS killed two fighters and injured three from the large Misratan 13 Battalion (formerly Third Force) in an ambush between Jufra and Sirte.

Bunyan Marsous Operations Room, which likewise has repeatedly warned of the danger of the militants regrouping, has increased its patrols in the desert south of Sirte, on the lookout for them.

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