For four days and nights, terrified residents of Sabratha huddled in their homes as Islamic State group fighters battled local militias after briefly overrunning the centre of the Libyan city.
But life is slowly returning to normal in the city, famous for its magnificent Roman ruins, since security forces declared at the weekend that the jihadists had been fought off.
A resident of the city Usama al-Jedi, recalled his ordeal when he said ” we were terrified and feared for our children and families”.
We were fortunate to re-establish security and, God willing, they won’t return.”
The assault came days after a US air strike destroyed a suspected IS training camp in the outskirts of the city, killing around 50 including alleged senior members, and locals said they were stunned at the jihadist advance.
Mohammad, commander of a local militia loyal authorities in Tripoli recalled that it was a shock for everyone to see IS in the building,they appeared in the centre of Sabratha to proclaim their ’emirate’
Libya has had two rival parliaments and governments since 2014 when an Islamist militia-led alliance overran the capital and forced the internationally recognised administration to take refuge in the remote east of the oil-rich nation.
Extremist groups including IS have exploited the power vacuum, making gains in coastal areas as the United Nations struggles to get both parliaments to sign up to a national unity government aimed at restoring stability.
In Sabratha, a city of about 100,000 which falls under the control of the Fajr Libya alliance installed in Tripoli, many families were holed up at home for four days as local militias fought IS back.
On Sunday, the day after authorities declared “victory”, most markets and shops were open again, although few customers ventured into the streets.
Schools would remain closed until a “total normalization of the situation”, authorities said, and banks should reopen in the coming days.
Sabratha mayor Hussein al-Daoudi urged the residents to return to normal life in the city that recovering from the jihadists’ lightning assault.
called on dazed residents to make a concerted push to return to normal life in the city still reeling from the
Authorities in Sabratha said IS was able to seize the city centre by activating “sleeper cells” as local militia went after jihadists thought to be hiding in its outskirts.
Source: The Guardian