Islamic State seizes power plant near Libyan city of Sirte

Ruined buildings in Sirte, Libya. The city has become a stronghold of extremist groups since the death of Libya’s president Muammar Gaddafi. (AFP/Mahmud Turkia)

Islamic State militants have seized a power plant west of the Libyan city of Sirte which supplies central and western parts of the country with electricity, the group and a military source said on Tuesday.

“The plant … was taken,” Islamic State said in a message on social media, adding that the capture of the plant meant that the militants had driven their enemies out of the entire city.

Forces loyal to the self-declared government that controls the capital Tripoli pulled out of the plant after Islamic State attacked it on Tuesday morning. Three soldiers were killed in the attack, the military source said.

Islamic State has exploited the general turmoil and security vacuum in Libya, where two governments are vying for power four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi, to build up a presence in several cities.

The militants earlier this year captured most of Sirte, Gaddafi’s home town, seizing the airport and driving a force loyal to the Tripoli government out to the city suburbs…