Sources from the Libyan National Army (LNA) said that 4 of their soldiers were wounded this morning after a suicide bomber detonated a 4x4 Jeep at an LNA checkpoint situated 90 kilometres to the east of Sirte. Two military vehicles were also destroyed by the attack.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, however LNA officials said their forces are patrolling desert areas south and west of the Oil Crescent region to deter possible attacks from the Islamic State. LNA forces stationed in the region have been placed on high alert since September after over 100 Toyota trucks carrying Islamic State militants attacked al-Wadi a-Ahmar, a desert area to the east of Sirte which serves as a buffer zone between the LNA and Misrata’s Bunyan Marsous forces. The September offensive was also heralded by two car bombs against LNA checkpoints.
The recent focus of Islamic State’s attacks on the LNA shows the group’s mastery of exploiting political divisions and distrust among domestic and international military actors in the country. The terror group seems to have found the LNA more vulnerable given the unfriendly political relationship between the US and LNA’s General Commander, marshal Khalifa Hifter. Islamic State‘s recent attacks on the LNA suggest that the militant group was able to exploit the political hostility between the US and marshal Hifter knowing that AFRICOM is not expected to throw its weight behind the LNA to avoid emboldening Mr Hifter’s political aspirations.