Islamic State attack at Misrata entrance in Libya kills five people
An Islamic State suicide car bomber struck at an entrance to the city of Misrata, killing five people and wounding another seven, according to a local militia member. IS supporters claimed credit for the attack on their Twitter accounts.
A spokesperson for Libya Dawn, based in Misrata, confirmed the bombing on early Sunday morning and also that it was carried out by the Islamic State. A Twitter message from IS supporters identified the bomber as a Tunisian. Libya Dawn is the main umbrella militia group associated with the Tripoli government, the rival of the internationally recognized government the House of Representafives(HoR) based in the eastern city of Tobruk. The Islamic State is in constant conflict with both governments. The suicide attack in Misrata caused extensive damage to the western Dafniya gate, according to a local journalist. The gate is a major commercial entrance into the city, a stronghold of Libya Dawn.The Islamic State has a strong base in Derna in the east where the surrounding area is held by the Tobruk government. However, it also holds much of the city of Sirte in an area controlled by the Tripoli government. It also launches attacks in many places including the capital Tripoli. The IS recently took control of the Sirte airport after the Tripoli government failed to send reinforcements to the battalion that was defending it. On Sunday they extended their control to the east of Sirte, taking the town of Hawara after laying siege to the town for a week. The central government does not seem to have the resources to spare to force the IS to retreat. The IS now controls about 87 miles of coastline in the western part of Libya from Sirte to the east.After the advances of IS, the Tripoli government has called for a general mobilisation to fight them. Acting Prime Minister of the Tripoli or Salvation government said: "The Tripoli government is determined to continue fighting extremism and criminal gangs who operate under what is known as the Islamic State until they are uprooted." He urged security forces and revolutionaries to mobilise against IS and claimed the group was a serious threat to LIbyan security.The UN has been trying since last fall to convince the two rival governments to agree to a unity government, but so far without success. Even if a political settlement were reached, the head of the Tobruk government armed forces Khalifa Haftar refuses to talk to the Libya Dawn militia so a cease fire appears impossible. Unlike the UN which believes that only a political solution to the crisis is possible, Haftar thinks that he can defeat the forces of the rival government militarily and has been attempting to do so since May of 2014. A UN sponsored meeting of Libyan mayors and municipal representatives issued a declaration calling for the "swift formation of a government of national accord". Neither of the rival governments recognize the legitimacy of their rivals. The internationally recognized Tobruk government was formed as a result of elections last year. However in November last year the Libyan Supreme Court declared the election unconstitutional and ruled that the Tobruk House of Representatives should be dissolved. On the basis of that decision the General National Congress government in Tripoli claims it is the rightful government and the HoR is in effect dissolved. Special UN envoy Bernardino Leon said last Thursday that the UN was preparing a new draft agreement for a unity government and peace which would be presented to the conflicting parties the first week of June. He hopes to have an agreement later in June.