BENGHAZI, Libya – A suicide car bomber from an Islamic State affiliate struck Sunday at an entrance to Libya's western coastal city of Misrata, killing five people and wounding seven, a local militia spokesman said. Twitter accounts of ISIS supporters posted a claim of responsibility.
Also on Sunday, the Islamic State group took control of the town of Hawara, east of Sirte, after a week-long siege of the town, a local lawmaker, Saad AbuSharada, said.
The new capture leaves the Libyan ISIS affiliate positioned to move freely further east, where the country's rich oilfields lie, or to the south.
Mohammed al-Shami, a spokesman for the Misrata-based Libya Dawn militia, said the suicide bombing early Sunday killed five people and wounded seven. He confirmed it was carried out by the ISIS affiliate.
A local journalist, Taher Zarouq, said the attack extensively damaged the western Dafniya gate, a major commercial entrance into Misrata.
Libya has been torn among powerful armed militias that have left the country with two rival parliaments and governments. Islamist-allied militias from Misrata control the capital Tripoli, setting up their own parliament and government. They pushed out the elected parliament, which now meets in the eastern city of Tobruk. Government forces and allied militias are also battling Islamist radical groups who operate in Benghazi, Libya's second largest city.
The local ISIS affiliate also controls the central city of Sirte and the eastern city of Darna.
AbuSharada said after the siege of Hawara, the ISIS group sent into emissaries to meet with the town elders, negotiating a cease-fire as well as access to the town and its mosques, where they would deliver sermons on Friday — the holy day of the Muslim week, when believers congregate for collective prayers.
"Now they control the whole coastline from Sirte to Nawfaleen," AbuSharada said of the town west of Harawa. The ISIS group, he said, now has access to about 87 miles of coastline in the western part of Libya.
Mohammed Burgeiba, a resident of Jufra, a town south of Sirte, told The Associated Press he spotted ISIS-affiliated fighters driving through town.