Misrata Courthouse Attack, Ongoing Terrorism Threat
6 Oct 2017
On 04 October, three suspected members of Islamic State targeted Misrata courthouse with a combined suicide bomb and firearms attack. The attackers entered the complex and opened fire with automatic weapons. In the ensuing firefight with security personnel, one of the attackers was shot dead and the remaining two detonated suicide vests to prevent capture. Their vehicle was discovered to contain a large volume of explosives and was disarmed after the attackers were killed.
- Four people were killed and 39 injured by combined suicide and firearms attack against the Misrata courthouse on 04 October 2017.
- This is the first notable attack in Misrata since October 2016.
- The attack has been claimed by the Islamic State’s Libyan branch.
Terrorism: On 04 October, three suspected members of Islamic State targeted Misrata courthouse with a combined suicide bomb and firearms attack. The attackers entered the complex and opened fire with automatic weapons. In the ensuing firefight with security personnel, one of the attackers was shot dead and the remaining two detonated suicide vests to prevent capture. Their vehicle was discovered to contain a large volume of explosives and was disarmed after the attackers were killed.
In addition to the attackers, four further people died as a result of the attack, with at least 39 people suffering injuries requiring medical treatment.
The attack coincided with the start of a trial for a number of Islamic State captives at the courthouse in Misrata, although it remains unclear if the attack was an attempt to free the captives or simply inflict maximum disruption and casualties.
SOLACE GLOBAL COMMENT
This attack represents the first terror incident in Misrata since the sabotage of two supply ships in October 2016. Misrata has remained an area of relative safety and stability in Libya, despite the active involvement of the city’s militias in combat operations supporting the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) against both the Islamic State and the forces of General Haftar’s rival government.
Despite military defeat in Sirte during 2016, militias aligned with the Islamic State are known to be regrouping in isolated desert areas south of the city. The attack on Misrata was likely carried out by members of the group partly due to Misrata’s key role in the battle for Sirte and partly due to the impending trial of a number of Islamic State sympathisers. At this stage it remains unclear whether this indicates the start of a broader effort by Islamic State to target and destabilise Misrata or if it was a one-off attack with limited objectives. The recent escalation of US-backed combat operations and supporting drone strikes south of Sirte, however, suggests that a decrease stability across the wider area should be considered likely.
Travellers are advised that the security situation in Libya, particularly in rural, isolated areas in the south of the country remain highly vulnerable to attacks by a number of militia groups. Foreign nationals are likely to be seen as high payoff targets for opportunistic attack or kidnap. Although urban areas routinely have a higher level of security, even previously stable areas remain vulnerable to attack by rival insurgent groups, as demonstrated by this attack in Misrata.
If caught in a terror situation, travellers are advised to RUN â HIDE â TELL â FIGHT â TREAT. RUN â If in a location where gunfire or explosions are heard, immediately leave the area by any safe route. HIDE â If unable to run away, find suitable cover or barricade yourself in a room. Remember to silence your phone and turn vibrate off. TELL â Inform emergency services or alert someone who is able to do it for you. Once police arrive, comply with their instructions and do not make any sudden movements. FIGHT â As a last resort, if confronted by an attacker, it is recommended to fight back by using the element of surprise by shouting, screaming and rushing at the attacker. If sheltered with others, convince them to do the same and rush the attacker all at once. Ensure the person entering the shelter is an attacker and not law enforcement. TREAT â If safe to do so, treat those with severe injuries; the earlier a victim receives basic aid, the greater the likelihood they will survive the incident. Medical personnel may only be able to access the scene once the security personnel have secured the area and removed the threat.
Solace Global would strongly advise clients to only travel to Libya with pre-arranged security in place. The minimum level of security in the country involves low profile GPS tracked vehicles, close protection teams, and a secondary convoy vehicle in case of an attack or vehicle breakdown. It is also advisable that travellers use a safe house or a well vetted hotel. Visitors to Libya may wish to receive Libya-specific hostile environment training. Travellers are also advised to use travel-tracking technology with an intelligence feed as well as regularly scheduled check-ins with a 24-hour operations centre. This should enable a traveller to be aware of any security updates within their vicinity, and to update others of their movements in case of an emergency.
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