January 11, 2018 / 2:30 PM / 9 months ago

Suspected Islamic State bomber surrenders at Libyan checkpoint: official

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - A suspected Islamic State militant driving a car laden with explosives surrendered to Libyan security forces at a checkpoint on Thursday rather than go ahead with an attack in the city of Misrata, a security official said.

A security member of Misrata counter-terrorism removes explosives from a car driven by a suspected Islamic State militant, in Misrata, Libya, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Ayman al-Sahili

The Misratan counter-terrorism official, who asked not to be named for security reasons, said he had surrendered at a checkpoint near Abu Grain town, but it was not immediately clear why he had handed himself in.

Abu Grain is about 100 km (60 miles) south of Misrata and 140 km west of Sirte, a city that Islamic State controlled until they were driven out by a Misratan-led military campaign in 2016.

A security member of Misrata counter-terrorism removes explosives from a car driven by a suspected Islamic State militant, in Misrata, Libya, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Ayman al-Sahili

“The suspect handed himself in to the security forces early morning on Thursday,” the official told Reuters. “The car bomb is now being dismantled by explosives experts.”

Since Islamic State’s defeat in Sirte, Libyan and Western security officials say militants have been trying to regroup in desert areas to the south, where they were targeted last year by several U.S. air strikes.

They have occasionally set up temporary checkpoints, and had done so in two places on a remote road in the area early on Wednesday, the Misratan official said.

Islamic State also claimed a deadly attack on a courthouse complex in Misrata last year.

Reporting by Ahmed Elumami; Editing by Aidan Lewis

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