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UN chief expresses concern over Libya’s fragile political state2 minutes read

Only intra-Libyan dialogue can solve Libyan problems – UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres.

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UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres/ AFP

UN chief Antonio Guterres expressed deep concern over the risk of confrontation in Libya after forces loyal to a controversial strongman announced they were preparing to advance on Tripoli.

“I am deeply concerned by the military movement taking place in Libya and the risk of confrontation,” the visiting Guterres tweeted from the capital, which is controlled by a UN-backed unity government.

“There is no military solution,” he added.

Dozens of militias have fought for control of the North African country since a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

But the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army of Khalifa Haftar has emerged as a key player, opposing the government in Tripoli and backing a parallel administration in the east.

Haftar launched an offensive into oil-producing regions of southern Libya in January ostensibly aimed at wiping out “terrorists” and criminal groups.

He has repeatedly expressed his intention to march on Tripoli.

LNA spokesman Ahmed Mesmari said at a press conference on Wednesday that “preparations are on the point of being completed… to purge the west of terrorists and mercenaries”.

Unity government chief Fayez al-Sarraj called the move an “escalation” and urged Haftar’s forces to “stop using the language of threats”.

He said he had ordered pro-government forces to prepare to “face all threats… whether from terrorist groups, criminals, outlaws and all who threaten the security of every Libyan city”.

The bellicose comments from Haftar’s forces come as the United Nations prepares to convene a conference later this month to hammer out a roadmap for delayed parliamentary and presidential elections.

“Only intra-Libyan dialogue can solve Libyan problems,” Guterres said on Thursday.

“I call for calm and restraint as I prepare to meet the Libyan leaders in the country.”

The rival leaders had agreed in Paris last year to hold elections before the end of the year, but that vote never materialised as Haftar’s forces and the Tripoli government grappled for power.

The UN has said Haftar and Sarraj agreed at a meeting in Abu Dhabi last month to make a new attempt to organise the elections.

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North Africa Politics

Egyptian security forces kill 21 terrorists planning Eid-ul-Fitr attack

Police raided two hideouts of “terrorist elements” in North Sinai governorate, sparking a gunbattle in which two officers were also wounded, the Interior Ministry said.

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An Egyptian police Vehicle is parked inside a cemetery after the former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was buried in Cairo
Egyptian security forces had found automatic weapons and suicide belts in the hideouts.) AFP

Egyptian security forces said Saturday that 21 terrorists were killed in clashes within the restive Sinai peninsula, where Islamic State group-affiliated militants have waged a long-running insurgency amidst constant crackdown by the police and military.

The government said two terrorist groups had been planning attacks during the major Islamic holiday – Eid al-Fitr – which starts in Egypt on Sunday.

The interior ministry said in a statement that police raided two hideouts of “terrorist elements” in North Sinai governorate, sparking a gun-battle in which two officers were also wounded.

Security forces had found automatic weapons and suicide belts in the hideouts.

Security forces have been battling a long-running insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula — in Egypt’s northeast — that is spearheaded by a local affiliate of the terrorist Islamic State group.

The fighting intensified after the military’s 2013 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.

In February 2018, security forces launched a nationwide operation against militants, focused on North Sinai. 

Around 950 suspected militants have been killed in the region along with dozens of security personnel, according to official figures.

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Libya’s Government of National Accord captures strategic airbase

It is a symbolic success for the counter-offensive that the GNA has been mounting against General Haftar’s forces for the past month.

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Libya's UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) forces attack the militias of renegade general Khalifa Haftar as they launch an operation in Tripoli, Libya on April 22, 2020. GNA forces launched an offensive against Haftar's militia in the Al-Khallatat area, the south of the capital Tripoli. Hazem Turkia / Anadolu Agency

Forces allied with Libya’s internationally recognized  government have seized the  Al-Watiya airbase, a key military base on the outskirts of the country’s capital from fighters loyal to renegade military commander General  Khalifa Haftar.

Military spokesman Mohamed Gnunu said in a Twitter post on Monday the forces of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) had taken over the entirety of the base near the Tunisian border.

The announcement by the administration of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj came after a month-long counteroffensive that has seen forces allied to it drive Haftar’s troops out of much of Libya’s western coast.

Haftar launched  an offensive Haftar  to take Tripoli in a lightning operation in April 2019, but his forces have been mired in fighting ever since resulting in a stalemated conflict that has killed more than 1,000 people.

It’s a symbolic success for the counter-offensive that the GNA has been mounting against Gen. Haftar’s forces for the past month.

The airbase has been an important asset for Gen Haftar for several years – its loss is another setback to his drive against the GNA from his power base in eastern Libya.

Libya a major oil producer, has been mired in chaos since 2011 when longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in a NATO-backed uprising.

It is now split between two rival administrations: The GNA in Tripoli and the eastern-based House of Representatives allied withGeneral  Haftar and his  Libyan National Army.

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North Africa Politics

Egyptian army kills 7 suspected militants in Sinai raid

The military also found 10 explosive devices, four explosive belts, several rifles and ammunition as well as various mobile phones and walkie-talkies as a result of the operation.

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah and military generals at an event in Cairo.

Egypt’s military said Friday seven suspected militants were killed in a raid carried out as part of its operations against insurgents in the restive Sinai Peninsula.

“The armed forces carried out a targeted operation that resulted in the killing of seven takfiris,” the army said in a statement, employing a term used by Egyptian authorities for extremist Islamic militants.

The raid was part of “ongoing efforts of the armed forces to combat terrorism and based on intelligence indicating the presence of a terrorist outpost on a farm in North Sinai”, the statement added.

One suspected militant died during the raid, while six others were killed after troops tracked them to a hideout, an AFP report said.

The military also found 10 explosive devices, four explosive belts, several rifles and ammunition as well as various mobile phones and walkie-talkies as a result of the operation.

Security forces have been battling a long-running Islamist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula — in Egypt’s northeast — that is spearheaded by a local affiliate of the Islamic State group.

The fighting intensified after the military’s 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
In February 2018, security forces launched a nationwide operation against militants, focused on North Sinai.

More than 930 suspected militants have been killed in the region along with dozens of security personnel, according to official figures

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