Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a series of deadly attacks in Libya, including a suicide truck bombing that targeted police training center in the western city of Zliten, killing at least 50 people, reported Reuters. The attack followed earlier suicide bombing by IS militants in Ras Lanuf, a major oil port in northern Libya, and attacks near the Es Sider oil port, wrote News Daily. Seven giant oil storage tanks were set on fire in a long-range rocket shelling.
The attacks have signaled IS’s long-term ambitions to extend its influence in Libya, especially as it comes under increasing pressure from bombing campaigns by the US-led Western coalition in Iraq and Syria, informed BBC. According to analysts, IS is targeting police and army training centers to create fear and prevent the rebuilding of state security institutions, a strategy previously deployed by al-Qaeda in Iraq.
The attacks stoked fears the North African country’s oil industry and compounded Libya’s economic woes, wrote Bloomberg. The turmoil has exacerbated weeks after representatives of Libya’s two rival governments signed a power-sharing agreement that called for the formation of a national unity government by mid-January.
Libya’s ‘oil triangle’ near the eastern capital of Benghazi is the country’s most valuable economic asset. Competing Libyan militias control vast swathes of the territory, vying for dominance.