By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli and Tunis, 20 February 2016:
The US air raids on Sabratha targeted militants, some of whom had travelled . . .[restrict]from Sirte to finalise the details of a suicide bombing campaign to be launched in Tripoli and Sebha, informed sources have told this newspaper.
The air strikes may also have killed two kidnapped Serbian diplomats imprisoned in one of the buildings.
It is being said that after the raid, significant quantities of bomb casings, ammonia, phosphate fertiliser and workshop tools were found in the ruins. Also discovered were stockpiles of AK47 ammunition.
It is now being suggested that up to 60 IS members may have been killed in yesterday’s US raid while five managed to escape. One Tunisian fighter held by the Sabrathans is reported to have provided this information. He may have been among the injured who were shown on social media in the town’s hospital. They appear to have received minimal care. One man with an injured leg was lying face down on the floor beside an empty bed.
It is unclear if the Tunisian fighter also gave any details of the two imprisoned Serb diplomats who, it is being claimed, were also killed in the airstrikes. The Tunisian’s information may also have been incomplete since two separate buildings appear to have been hit.
Informed sources have told the Libya Herald that one location that was struck was a two-storey residential building in the Taleel part of the town. It is being claimed that this is owned by a named local man, who is said to be an enthusiastic IS supporter. He has been linked with people-trafficking as well as the reception of newly-recruited IS fighters.
The second target was the former police training camp in the Al-Qasr area where Ansar Al-Sharia is believed to have set up a base in 2013.
In his briefing earlier today admitting the airstrikes, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said that the IS targets had been watched for weeks. It is likely that aerial surveillance and communications intercepts were complemented by local intelligence. If the two Serb diplomats were indeed in one of the buildings that were struck, it will be wondered why US raid planners did not know this.
The two people, pictures of whose bodies have been posted on social media, do bear a close resemblance to the kidnapped diplomats Sladjana Stankovic and Jovica Stepic, seized last November as they travelled in a convoy from Tripoli to Tunis. [/restrict]