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Libya announces Daesh crackdown as 830 arrest warrants issued

Image of Daesh militants and tanks
Daesh militants and tanks

A Daesh cameraman who filmed the execution of 21 people in the Libyan city of Sirte in February 2015 is among a number of Daesh members arrested and interrogated by Libyan authorities, the head of investigations at the attorney general’s office confirmed yesterday.

Speaking at a press conference in the Libyan capital Tripoli, Chief Prosecutor Al-Sadiq Al-Sour confirmed that 21 bodies had been discovered buried somewhere behind the Mahari Hotel in the coastal city of Sirte. The majority of the victims were identified as Coptic Egyptian Christians.

The prosecutor verified the findings that two Tunisian journalists, who disappeared near Ajdabiy three years ago, had been killed by Daesh.

The group is also accused of killing oilfield workers from the Austrian oil services company VAOS at the Ghani oilfield in March 2015, as well as being responsible for the executions in April 2015 of 30 Ethiopian Christians.

Libya has been rocked by chaos since the revolution in 2011 which lead to the ousting and killing of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Read: International community against political consensus in Libya, says former official

Since then the country has been swarmed by militia groups with political and tribal alliances as well as Daesh, which once had strongholds in the country, but has now become weakened by operations against it by the Libyan National Army loyal to the Tobruk administration in the east of the country.

Many of the fighters have since fled Libya and attempted to regroup in neighbouring Algeria and Tunisia where they have hoped to recruit but have instead been targeted by counter-terrorism operations.

Altogether there have been around 200 incidents involving terrorists that have been investigated in Libya including the 2014 assassinations in Derna of former Attorney General Abdulaziz Al-Hasadi and General National Congresswomen Fariha Al-Berkawi, which would both result in court action, Al-Sour said.

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The evidence gathered was accumulated from interrogations of detained Daesh members though the numbers currently detained was not revealed.

Arrest warrants have been issued for 830 suspects in Libya and for another 50 believed to reside abroad which have been passed onto Interpol. Al-Sour failed to reveal the names but said that Libyan officials were among those facing arrest on terrorism-related charges.

According to the chief prosecutor, those captured currently are Libyan nationals but their leaders have come from countries including Sudan, Egypt, Tunisia, Mali and Chad.

Daesh fighters have regrouped in the south of the country since the jihadist group was evicted from its stronghold of Sirte on the Mediterranean coast last December after several months of heavy clashes.

In Sirte, officials were still working to identify the bodies of 780 dead Daesh fighters held in morgues.

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