Alleged Isil gunmen in Libya ‘seize radio station’

Ruined buildings in Sirte, Libya. The city has become a stronghold of extremist groups since the death of Libya’s president Muammar Gaddafi. Photo: MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP

Gunmen claiming to be members of the Islamic State jihadist group have seized control of a state-run radio station in Libya’s coastal city of Sirte, residents said on Friday.

Jihadist websites also posted pictures showing armed men sitting in front of microphones in a broadcasting studio and brandishing Kalashnikov assault rifles.

“They took Radio Sirte yesterday (Thursday). Since then they have been broadcasting (verses from) the Koran and speeches by (IS chief Abu Bakr) al-Baghdadi,” a resident of the central city told news agency AFP by telephone.

The resident said speeches of Isil spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani were also being played on the air.

A former local administration official said the gunmen have set up a headquarters in the centre of the city, and voiced concern that they could declare an Islamic emirate in Sirte.

“They could take advantage of the absence of any central government authority to transform the city into an Islamic emirate as they did in Derna,” an eastern city held by jihadist groups including Isil…