Pro-Islamic State militants seize Libyan university

Picture on social media shows IS flag at Sirte university’s entrance

An image made available by an Islamist propaganda outlet allegedly shows members of the Islamic State parading in a street in Sirte. Photograph: AFP/HO/ Welayat Tarablos

An image made available by an Islamist propaganda outlet allegedly shows members of the Islamic State parading in a street in Sirte. Photograph: AFP/HO/ Welayat Tarablos

 

Militants claiming loyalty to Islamic State have seized the university in the central Libyan city of Sirte, days after a video showed them staging a convoy parade.

“The group took control of the university yesterday [Thursday],” one Sirte resident said. “Two days ago they had already seized the city’s administrative complex and expelled all employees.”

A picture posted on social media showed an IS flag at the university’s entrance.

Sirte residents said the militants had also taken over a radio station and other government buildings. A video on social media showed a convoy of vehicles flying Islamic State flags apparently driving through the city.

Sirte, birthplace of former Libyan leader Muammar Gadafy, has been a stronghold of Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamist group blamed by the US for a 2012 assault on its diplomatic compound in Benghazi.

The unofficial government controlling Tripoli and parts of western Libya had sent troops to Sirte, a military source said. “Battalion No 166 has been commissioned by the general chief of staff in Tripoli to start securing state institutions in Sirte.”

Libya’s recognised government and elected parliament have been confined to the country’s east since a rival group seized the capital in August, reinstating the previous assembly and installing a rival government.

World powers have not recognised the Tripoli administration, which opponents say is backed by Islamists.– (Reuters)