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Islamic State claims deadly attack in southern Libya

Attack on forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar killed at least nine in southern desert town of Tazerbo
An Islamic State group convoy travels through Sirte in 2015 (Screengrab/File photo)

The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed responsibility for an attack on a town in Libya's southern desert that killed at least nine people and in which several others were kidnapped.

The militant group, which made its claim in a statement on its news agency Amaq, said 29 people had been either killed or wounded in Friday's attack, Reuters reported.

A military source said the gunmen had occupied a police station in the oasis town of Tazerbo, north of Kufra, until residents expelled them.

IS fighters targeted security service members loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, who heads the self-styled Libyan National Army, AFP news agency reported.

Eleven people, including civilians and a security chief, were also kidnapped by gunmen who attacked the police station, a senior security official told AFP on Friday.

Suspected Islamic State attack kills nine in southeast Libya
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Tazerbo had been used in the past as a rest stop for tourists on Sahara camping tours before Libya plunged into chaos in 2011 following the ouster of longtime leader, Muammar Gaddafi.

The town listed six residents on its website as being among those killed in Friday's attack.

A resident told Reuters that nine people had been killed in total and 10 others were wounded. Several policemen and civilians had also been abducted, he said.

IS fighters have staged several attacks on southern towns since withdrawing into the desert after losing its main stronghold, the coastal city of Sirte, late in 2016.

The militant group took advantage of the chaos in Libya to gain a foothold in the city in 2015, but forces loyal to the internationally-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) regained control of Sirte in December 2016 after eight months of fighting.

This is the second attack on forces loyal to Haftar that has been claimed by IS. The first killed at least five people in October in the central Kufra region.