January 25, 2015 / 5:31 PM / 4 years ago

Libya's Islamists Ansar al-Sharia confirm leader's death - monitoring

TRIPOLI, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Libya’s Islamist militant group Ansar al-Sharia, accused by the U.S. government of killing its ambassador to Libya in 2012, has confirmed the death of its leader Mohamed al-Zahawi, the SITE monitoring service said on Sunday.

Zahawi, whose Ansar al-Sharia brigade is listed as a terrorist organisation by the United States, died from wounds sustained in battle, members of his family told Reuters and a Libyan official said previously.

Ansar al-Sharia is deeply embroiled in the violence and struggles for wealth and influence that have engulfed Libya since a 2011 uprising toppled Muammar Gaddafi.

Its members have been battling the forces of former Libyan army general Khalifa Haftar since he declared war on the group in May, pushing it out of much of the Libya’s second-largest city Benghazi.

The U.S. government blames Ansar al-Sharia for an assault on a former diplomatic compound in the eastern city in 2012, which killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

In the video recording announcing Zahawi’s death, the militants swore revenge, according to SITE.

“Know that the curses of the mujahideen will come successively upon you like thunderbolts,” a militant named Abu Khalid al-Madani said in the video released by the group on Jan. 24, according to SITE.

It said Ansar al Sharia did not give any details of his death. (Reporting by Libya staff, writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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