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Civilians and soldiers beheaded in attack on pro-Haftar forces in Libya

Eleven people were beheaded in the attack on troops loyal to Khalifa Haftar, which was blamed on the Islamic State group
Members of the LNA, loyal to Haftar, fire mortars during in Benghazi's central Akhribish district (AFP)

At least 11 people were beheaded on Wednesday in an attack on a checkpoint controlled by Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar south of Tripoli, a spokesman for his forces said.

"At least nine soldiers were beheaded ... in addition to two civilians killed in the same way" at the checkpoint about 500km south of Tripoli, Colonel Ahmad al-Mesmari said, blaming the Islamic State group for the attack.

Since Muammar Gaddafi's fall in 2011, Libya has been plagued by security problems, and political actors have been obliged to depend on rival militias that are battling for control of the North African country.

The LNA is led by General Khalifa Haftar, who opposes the internationally recognised government in Tripoli.

Last week the LNA announced it had arrested the commander of an elite forces unit who is sought by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for allegedly executing dozens of prisoners.

The LNA said the commander, Mahmoud al-Werfalli, was being investigated by a military prosecutor.

"We inform you that the defendant in your judicial case, Mahmoud al-Werfalli, is under investigation for the cases against him by the general military prosecutor and is now under arrest," the LNA said in a statement, addressing the ICC.

Werfalli is wanted for allegedly executing dozens of prisoners in the spring and summer of this year, towards the end of a three-year LNA campaign against Islamist militants and other opponents for control of the eastern city of Benghazi.

The elite forces are a powerful unit nominally under LNA control that joined the Benghazi campaign in its early stages.

The LNA commended the ICC on its "efforts to achieve stability and social security".

"We announce our readiness to cooperate with you in informing you of the result and course of the judicial case," the LNA said.

The statement gave no indication whether the LNA may be prepared to hand Werfalli over to the ICC, which issued an arrest warrant for him on Tuesday.

An elite forces spokesman had earlier dismissed the warrant, saying the ICC should instead be seeking to arrest the LNA's opponents.

The LNA is the dominant force in eastern Libya. It declared victory in its Benghazi campaign in July.

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