Seven killed in southern Libya air strike

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An air strike targeting Islamist militants has killed at least seven people near the south-western Libyan city of Sabha, a local official and media reports said.

Gunmen later seized the remains of the suspected militants from a morgue, said the official, who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals.

The early morning strike hit three houses in Gardah, north-west of Sabha, destroying two and damaging the third, said the official.

It was not clear who carried out the strike, and military officials could not immediately be reached for comment. Forces on both sides of conflict-ridden Libya’s east-west political divide have used warplanes to strike militant targets.

The United States has also conducted air strikes on Islamist militants in Libya, but a US defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said its forces did not carry out the latest strike.

There were conflicting reports about whether the suspected militants were linked to al Qaeda or Islamic State, both of which have a presence in Libya’s south.

Libyan news website Press Solidarity said the main target was a militant called Abdulrahman Belhaj Hesnawi, also known as Abu Talha al-Libi, though several reports said he was not among the dead.