Rival Extremists Fight It Out in Derna

Ansar al-Sharia and the Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade are in a bloody battle for control of Derna. Fighting between the rival Libyan extremists erupted Friday night (June 6th).

Moutaz Ahmed Mrash, a leading figure of both al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia, was hit by a hail of bullets in front of his home.

Car bombs targeted Ansar al-Sharia leader Omar Al-Shalali and Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade commander Ameen Al-Kabayli. Other explosions rocked the houses the two brigades’ members.

The violence followed the assassination of Abu Slim commander Mohamed Abu Bilal in a car bombing last month that was blamed on Ansar al-Sharia.

“Derna is controlled by al-Qaeda,” said Nadia Fathia al-Obeidi, a doctor at Derna hospital. “This organisation is led by Sofian ben Qumu and the so-called Army of the Islamic Shura.”

Ahmed Jaouhari, a 25-year-old university student, described the explosions that hit Derna on Friday evening.

“Salah Bouzid from Ansar al-Sharia survived an assassination attempt. He was known as a professional expert in armed robberies and car theft. His home in the district of bin Nasser on the east coast behind the Loloa hotel was targeted. Gunmen placed a rigged briefcase outside his home,” Jaouhari said.

Eyewitness Amjad Mansoor Hassan, a 23-year-old law student, said: “A car belonging to Ameen Al-Kabayli, a member of Ansar al-Sharia, exploded while he was inside the house. The explosion did not cause any injuries.”

He added that Ansar al-Sharia targeted elements of the Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade in the city of Derna on Friday evening. A rigged bag was placed next to the house of Jadallah Mohammed Taher al-Mansouri, near the former shoe factory. The blast damaged the house.

The home of Ali Chairi Habash, affiliated with Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade, was also targeted, he said. Unknown gunmen placed a rigged suitcase near the wall of his residence in the eastern Chiha district without causing casualties.

“The clashes are very g in Derna with all types of weapons between the Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade and al-Qaeda,” teacher Sarah Belkassem said. “They targeted the homes of its members, which caused panic and fear in the hearts of the residents.”

Trader Musa Mohamed said that the fighting was most intense in Derna between extremists and those that were even more extreme. “I think ‘Operation Dignity’ shook them and sent them into panic and fear,” he added.

Randa Massoud, 43-year-old housewife and mother of four, appealed to the army and police, saying, “We are tired of fear, expecting at any moment someone to enter my house and take my kids from me. They break into houses and kill everyone working for the army and police. They also take young girls and marry them forcibly to extremist emirs living in the mountains.”

“I am tired of my fear for my kids,” she added in tears. “My nerves collapsed and I can no longer endure the fear taking place in my city, Derna. How can my kids and I go out to shop and buy our needs? We are scared even inside our house. We are not safe for fear of break-ins.”

“Terror and repression are still going on in Derna,” she said.

Source : Magharebia