Three killed in embattled Derna, roads closed

Libya’s Channel

Three men have been killed by extremists in the eastern town of Derna, accused of being supporters of the army and “stirring trouble”.

A unit of the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council apprehended the three men west of the city, the group’s media arm Al-Sabeel said, adding that they were “caught” when trying to flee.

Al-Sabeel’s statement claimed that this was the second time the men – dubbed “remnants of Operation Karama” – were coming to Derna to “carry out criminal activities” and “stir trouble”.  One of the three worked for Internal Security under the Gaddafi regime and committed crimes, it added.

Their bodies were taken to Al-Harish hospital.

Sources said that the three men were from Ain Mara, a village west of Derna, and that they were caught at near the western entrance to the city.

Chief of Staff Abderrazaq al-Nadhuri, who was recently appointed Military Governor of the area between Derna and Bin Jawad, ordered the Army’s Omar Mukhtar Operations Room on Sunday to close the coastal road from Derna to Karsa at night. Legal measures will be taken against anyone disrespecting the order, said a spokesman of the Operations Room, which is in charge of the Derna area. Army troops were patrolling the road west of Derna implemeting Nadhuri’s decision, the spokesman added.

A Derna resident told Libya Channel that all roads into the town were closed. This, he said, was preventing cash deliveries for local bank branches, which are under particular strain due to the Eid al-Fitr holiday which started on Wednesday. All gas stations were closed as well, he added.

Derna has been a hotbed for extremists for many years and was chosen by the so-called Islamic State in 2014 as their base. Libyan militants that returned from fighting Syria went to Derna to encourage pre-existing groups to pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October two years ago.

A local uprising spearheaded by residents and the al-Qaeda aligned Mujahideen Shura Council expelled Isis last April. The Mujahideen have been largely in control of the town since then and have clashing with army forces who are on the outskirts.

Warplanes have hit Derna several times this year killing civilians and sparking uproar.

In February two bombs struck the Al-Wahda Hospital compound in the Bab Tobruk area, killing at least two civilians, including a child, and causing extensive damage. The Mujahideen Council blamed the army,  an accusation the army subsequently denied saying it was not their aircraft.

However later sorties carried out by air force between 4 and 15 June resulted in the death of two children, one woman and two men, according to the UN mission to Libya.

The UN’s Deputy Special Envoy for Libya Ali al-Za’tari called for the air raids to stop last month,  adding that direct attacks on civilians or indiscriminate attacks are war crimes, and those responsible should be prosecuted.

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