Tripoli, Oct 15 — Seven members of the Al Qaeda-affiliated militia Ansar Al Sharia died in Libya’s Sirte in an explosion Monday, Libyan Deputy Defence Minister Khaled Al Sharif said Tuesday.
Al Sharif said that the militants died after the ammunition that was packed in their vehicle blew up while they were driving, Xinhua reported.
Residents of Sirte, 450 km east of Libya’s capital Tripoli and hometown of former leader Muammar Gaddafi, were reluctant to give information about the presence of the Benghazi-based fundamentalist group there.
However, reports indicate that Ansar Al Sharia has a training camp for combatants 15 km west from downtown Sirte.
Accusations that the explosion came from a US drone attack circulated shortly after the accident.
However, Ansar Al Sharia in a statement Tuesday denied it was a drone strike.
These accusations come amid the general discontent that has gripped Libya since the US disclosed that it had carried out a raid to capture Al Qaeda suspect Anas Abu al Libi Oct 5.
The Ansar Al Sharia militia, created during the 2011 uprising in Benghazi that helped overthrow the former Gaddafi regime, is allegedly responsible for the attack on the American diplomatic mission in the eastern city of Benghazi in September 2012, which resulted in the death of US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other US diplomats.
Libya has witnessed a deterioration of security and an escalation of violence in the past few months.
The Libyan government is struggling to suppress the proliferation of arms and militias in the country, which has increased in the last two years with the end of the country’s Feb 17 Revolution.