The Libyan government yesterday vowed to fight terrorism, in its first acknowledgement that “terrorist groups” were behind dozens of attacks against security services and Westerners.
Three years after a revolution toppled former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and left the country awash with guns, near-daily attacks continue unchecked across the nation.
“The nation finds itself in a confrontation with terrorist groups, and it falls upon the government to mobilize its military and security forces to fight this scourge,” the government said in a statement on its Web site.
“There will be no place for terrorism in Libya ... and Libyans must be prepared for such a battle in terms of caution, awareness and sacrifice,” the statement said.
Eastern Libya has become a bastion of Islamist extremists, with authorities avoiding a full-blown confrontation with heavily armed former rebels pending the formation of a regular army and police force.
The government indicated it would turn to “the national military force as it is of now” in its fight against terrorism, alluding to pro-government militias that battled Qaddafi’s regime in the 2011 uprising.
The statement was published after a Cabinet meeting held in the southern town of Ghat, two days after a car bomb at a military academy in the eastern city of Benghazi left at least seven soldiers dead.
It also comes after parliament on Tuesday ousted former Libyan prime minister Ali Zeidan over his failure to bring law and order to the country.
The government said “the cities of Benghazi, Derna and Sirte and others are facing a terrorist war carried out by Libyan and foreign elements with hostile intentions.”
Libyan authorities did not mention any particular group, but these cities are strongholds of extremists such as the jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia, placed on the US’ terror list in January.
Ansar al-Sharia is suspected of waging attacks against judges and security forces, but also of being behind attacks on Western interests such as an assault on the US mission in 2012 that killed the ambassador and three other Americans.
There have also been a string of attacks and kidnappings targeting foreigners in the North African nation in recent months.