“The bombings in the town of Qubba, which is controlled by Libya’s internationally recognized government, solidified concerns the extremist group has spread beyond the battlefields of Iraq and Syria and established a foothold less than 500 miles from the southern tip of Italy.” No kidding, really?
“Islamic State militants kill dozens in suicide bombings in eastern Libya,” by Esam Mohamed and Maggie Michael, Associated Press, February 20, 2015 (thanks to Jack):
TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Islamic State militants unleashed suicide bombings Friday in eastern Libya, killing at least 40 people in what the group said was retaliation for Egyptian airstrikes against the extremists’ aggressive new branch in North Africa.
The bombings in the town of Qubba, which is controlled by Libya’s internationally recognized government, solidified concerns the extremist group has spread beyond the battlefields of Iraq and Syria and established a foothold less than 500 miles from the southern tip of Italy.
The militants have taken over at least two Libyan coastal cities on the Mediterranean — Sirte and Darna, which is about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Qubba. They released a video Sunday that showed the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians who were abducted in Sirte, and Egypt responded Monday with airstrikes on Darna.
The Islamic State group has established its presence in Libya by exploiting the country’s breakdown since dictator Moammar Gadhafi was ousted and killed in 2011. Hundreds of militias have taken power since then, and some of them have militant ideologies. A militia coalition known as Libya Dawn has taken over Tripoli, where Islamists set up their own parliament and government. Islamic extremist militias controlled the second-largest city of Benghazi until late last year, when army troops began battling them for control.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for Friday’s suicide bombings in Qubba, but said there were only two attacks, while the government said there were three.
Army spokesman Mohammed Hegazi said one attacker rammed an explosives-packed ambulance into a gas station where motorists were lined up.
“Imagine a car packed with a large amount of explosives striking a gas station; the explosion was huge and many of the injured are in very bad shape while the victims’ bodies were torn into pieces,” Hegazi said.
Two other bombers detonated vehicles next to the house of the parliament speaker and the nearby security headquarters, he said.
Government spokesman Mohammed Bazaza put the death toll at 40, with at least 70 injured, some seriously. The number of dead was expected to rise. Two security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity becase they were not authorized to talk to the media said at least 45 were killed….