Al-Qaida-linked militants in eastern Libya declared a holy war on a local Islamic State affiliate Wednesday after one of their senior leaders was shot dead by masked gunmen, setting off clashes between the rival jihadist groups that left 11 people dead on both sides.
The clashes erupted after gunmen opened fire on Nasr Akr, an al-Qaida-inspired militant once jailed in the UK on terrorism charges. The 55-year-old veteran jihadist, who fought in Afghanistan, was killed along with his aide.
Akr’s group, known as the Shura Council of Darna’s Jihadists, announced his killing in a statement on Wednesday, blaming it on Islamic State militants. It accused the ISIS group of “tyranny and criminality,” and vowed to wage “holy war against them until none of them are left.” It also called on residents to rise up against the extremist group.
The ensuing clashes killed at least nine ISIS militants and two from the Shura Council, including Salem Derbi, the commander of the so-called Abu Salem Brigade, which has history of enmity with ISIS.