Al Qaeda leader may have been killed in strike in south Libya

There are conflicting reports on the incident but a resident who lives near Sabha claimed the strike happened a little after eleven last night targeting a house in the village of Gurtha Shati on the outskirts of Sabha a main city in the south of Libya.

A Libyan news agency, LANA, associated with the eastern government of the House of Representative (HoR) based in Tobruk claimed a senior Al-Qaeda leader was killed in the attack described as a drone strike. Although some suggest that it was a western military action, the US has denied any involvement. In past incidents, the US has taken responsibility for attacks on terrorist groups it had made in Libya. A tweet claims that the bombing was by the French: "Update: #French Air Force Armée de l'Air Rafales just bombed house of a Libyan #alqaeda leader near #Sabha, #Libya a couple of hours ago." There is still no certainty as to who was responsible.
A clothing store in the southern Libyan city of Sabha
A clothing store in the southern Libyan city of Sabha
LANA said that the Al-Qaeda leader was Abu Talha al-Hassnawi, a key figure in Al-Qaeda's North Africa network. His house was the target of the attack. Hassnawi is said to be close to Mokhtar Belmokhtar a former top Al-Qaeda leader. LANA claimed that Hassnawi fled to Sabha from Sirte where the Islamic State is virtually defeated, as did Belmokhtar. The agency said that the killing of Hassnawi is due to actions associated with the HoR government indicating that permission for the strike was granted by the HoR and no doubt Khalifa Haftar commander of the HoR-associated Libyan National Army (LNA). A local resident said that the attack left seven bodies so charred that it was impossible to identify Hassnawi. A later report in the Libya Herald cites a local official as denying that Hassnawi was killed in the attack.
A Reuters report says that gunmen later seized the remains of the militants from a mosque according to a local official. The same report claims three houses were hit in the strike with two destroyed and one damaged. Another local official claimed that those killed included both Libyans and foreigners and that it was not known if the dead included Hassnawi. He also said that gunmen went to a local hospital at Adri about 35 km or 22 miles from the village and seized the remains of the bodies. The action appears to have been sanctioned by the HoR government rather than the UN-brokered internationally recognized Government of National Accord(GNA) based in Tripoli.


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