BENGHAZI, Libya — An Islamic State militant drove his explosives-laden car into a checkpoint east of the coastal Libyan city of Sirte on Thursday, killing two policemen, military officials said.
The officials said the blast at Nofaliya, 130 kilometers (81 miles) east of Sirte, also wounded two soldiers from the self-styled Libyan National Army, LNA. The IS group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement circulated online.
The attack and the resulting death toll were reported by Col. Muftah Amgharief, from the security force guarding oil facilities in eastern Libya, and Faisal Ahbale, spokesman for the army’s 101st Brigade. The incident and the death toll were also reported by the LNA spokesman on his Facebook page.
Thursday’s attack came just over a week after IS militants beheaded 11 people in an attack on a checkpoint in the central district of al-Jufra, some 300 kilometers (185 miles) south of Sirte, which IS held until Libyan forces expelled the militants late last year.
Bands of IS militants are now believed to be roaming the vast deserts around the city, preying on travelers and attacking isolated outposts or convoys belonging to the army or rival militias.
Libya has been rife with chaos since a 2011 popular uprising that toppled and later killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Rival militias, many led by Muslim extremists, hold sway over large swathes of territory, while three rival administrations struggle to exercise authority.
The deserts of central and southern Libya have been largely lawless since 2011, with an array of armed groups holding sway and controlling overland crossings into neighboring countries.