The Libyan branch of ISIS staged a gruesome attack Wednesday on government-security headquarters in the western city of Sabratha. According to the AP, the group beheaded 12 officers before taking control of the complex.
“A second security official said that the militants used the headless bodies of the officers they killed to block the roads leading to the security headquarters—which they occupied for about three hours,” the report added.
The attack came less than a week after American airstrikes hit an ISIS training camp in the city, killing about 40 people, including two Serbian hostages. The renascent U.S. efforts in Libya speak to a growing concern shared by a number of countries about ISIS’s increasing ability to flourish in the North African country.
American intelligence officials estimate that the group’s ranks in Libya have grown to 6,500 fighters, more than doubling since the fall. ISIS first declared its intentions to establish a presence in Libya in 2014 and has been launching attacks ever since. The group is now thought to control 150 miles of Libyan coastline.
Part of this surge is being attributed to the civil discord in Libya among the country’s competing political factions and militias, which have produce rival governments with their own security forces. The chaos has had major economic repercussions as well. Last month, the head of the country’s national oil company estimated that Libya has lost $68 billion in oil sales since 2013.