BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — Forces of Libya's eastern military strongman said they arrested a suspected senior local Islamic State fighter on Sunday in a southwestern town known to be a militant hideout.
Mohammed Miloud was once an IS leader in the coastal city of Sirte, held by the group before they were driven out in a U.S.-backed campaign in 2016, spokesman Ahmed al-Mosmari said.
The militant leader was allegedly involved in several attacks in the country’s so-called oil crescent — whose ports and oil fields account for the lion’s share of Libya’s oil production and exports, he said.
He added that Miloud was allegedly involved in the kidnapping of four Italian engineers in 2016. The Italians were later released after a four-million-Euro ransom was paid to the militants, he said.
The comments by Al-Mosmari, spokesman for forces led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter, could not independently be verified.
Libya has been in turmoil since a civil war in 2011 toppled longtime autocrat Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed.
The chaos that followed the NATO-backed uprising allowed IS and other extremist groups to gain a foothold, benefiting from Libya’s remote stretches near its borders.