Sixteen Libyan soldiers were killed and 38 wounded in clashes around an eastern Islamist stronghold and close to a key oil terminal, military officials said Tuesday.
“The army lost 11 soldiers… in violent clashes with radical Islamists after an army offensive launched on Monday” near the town of Derna, said Colonel Ahmed al-Mashari.
He said the Islamist fighters had suffered “heavy losses” in the skirmishes.
The jihadist Islamic State (IS) group that has seized chunks of Iraq and Syria is thought to have gained a foothold in Derna amid the chaos in Libya since the 2011 uprising that ousted dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
Meanwhile, the Islamist-backed Fajr Dawn militia launched an offensive against troops loyal to Libya’s internationally recognised government around the key oil hub of Al-Sidra, a military spokesman said.