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Bomb kills nine in eastern Libya as ISIS presses on

ISIS has built up a significant presence, exploiting a security vacuum as two rival governments battle for power

Published: Updated:

A car bomb attack claimed by ISIS has killed nine people and wounded dozens in Libya's eastern coastal city of Derna, a medical source said.

"Nine persons were killed and dozens wounded in a car bomb in Derna city" on Sunday night, a medical official in eastern Libya told AFP by telephone.

"Some of the dead and wounded are civilians."

ISIS has said it was behind the attack and that it was carried out by a Sudanese militant.

"The martyr Abu Jaafar al-Sudani blew up his car bomb... in the city of Derna, causing many dead and wounded," read a statement the group posted online.

ISIS has built up a significant presence in Libya, exploiting a security vacuum as two rival governments battle for power four years after the ousting of Muammar Qaddafi.

But ISIS was expelled from Derna in June by rival Islamist groups backed up by residents angry over the arrival of foreign fighters and clerics in the city.

Security vacuum

ISIS fighters were trying on Sunday to retake Derna, residents said. The rival Islamist Abu Salim Martyrs Brigade managed to repulse their attack, but fighting with heavy weapons raged on the eastern edge of the city late into Sunday night, they said.

According to ISIS, a commander who opposed their group was killed, adding others had been killed and wounded. But no further details were immediately available.

The air force of Libya's official government, which has been based in the east of the country since losing control of the capital Tripoli a year ago, conducted an air strike on an area that ISIS was trying to take, said Abdul-Karim Sabra, a local military spokesman.

The eastern government forces have had a presence near Derna for more than a year but have not tried to take the city.

The government and parliament based in Tripoli are not recognized internationally.

Both Libyan administrations are allied to loose groups of former anti-Qaddafi rebels who have divided up along political, tribal and regional lines.