By Adam Ali.
Benghazi, 15 June 2015:
While Washington is still saying that it is cautiously optimistic that it killed Mokhtar Belmokhtar in . . .[restrict]Sunday’s airstrike on a farm at the edge of Ajdabiya, reports are emerging variously that the Algerian terrorist was not there or was not dead but may have instead been seriously injured.
However, a picture published on social media (above) appears to show Belmokhtar’s body. Seen alongside a shot of him alive, there are strong similarities. One account has it that he had been in Derna but had left the town during the fighting, to attend the apparently fatal meeting at the farmhouse.
The names being circulating of seven other people killed in the airstrike are however, puzzling. Sources say that none is known to be the sort of high-level Ansar Al-Sharia commanders with whom Belmokhtar would be consulting. Three of the men appear to be brothers, Atiya Buhadida Al-Magharbi, Naji Buhadida Al-Magharbi and Said Buhadida Al-Magharbi. The others are said to be Ahmed Khattab Al-Fakhri, Hamza Al-Mashiti, Faraj Dunah Al-Sadidi Al-Zwai and Ali Badi. All are thought to be Libyan.
Given the devastation at the site, it would seem that anyone close to the explosion would have been most unlikely to have survived.
Video on social media shows unidentified individuals, some of them with guns, wandering around the ruins. The footage did not show the weapons’ dump which is thought to have also been hit and which is presumed to account for the plume of smoke rising from the site several hours after the 2am attack on Sunday morning.
Meanwhile a resident told the Libya Herald that Ajdbiya was calm and that all IS, Ansar and Ajdabiya Shoura fighters had withdrawn from the town. Shops had reopened but there was a great deal of tension in the town. Ammunition was being distributed to locals in anticipation of a further fighting. Given the IS counterattack on Derna this evening, this caution would seem well-placed.
The Ajdabiya Shoura Council today issued a statement blaming the “bloodbath” in the town on Cyrenaican tribes. It said that seven of its fighters had been killed. It also threatened the House of Representatives and the “corrupt” government in Beida. “They are legitimate targets and they will learn that the blood of our young people is not cheap.”