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Libyan troops killed by suspected Islamic State militants: spokesman

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - At least nine members of security forces loyal to Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar and two civilians were killed on Wednesday by suspected Islamic State militants at a checkpoint in the central Jufra region, a military spokesman said.

A statement posted by Islamic State’s Amaq news agency said 21 members of “Haftar’s militias” had been killed or injured in the attack.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) took over several strategic bases in Jufra and the neighboring region of Sabha earlier this year as rival factions withdrew.

“The terrorist organization Daesh (Islamic State) attacked al-Fogha checkpoint in Jufra region this morning, killing nine soldiers and two civilians were slaughtered,” said LNA spokesman Ahmed Mismari. He said the victims had been beheaded.

Jufra lies to the south of Sirte, the coastal city where Islamic State established a stronghold before being ousted by local forces late last year.

Some militants fled into desert areas to the south and west of Sirte where Libyan officials say they have been trying to regroup.

Reporting by Ayman Al-Warfalli; writing by Ahmed Elumami; editing by Aidan Lewis