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Suspected IS Fighters Killed in Libya Firefight

FILE - A Libyan rebel mans a check point on the outskirts of Benghazi, Libya, March 30, 2011. Fighting was continuing Saturday for control of the country's oil facilities around the city.

Libyan forces killed three suspected Islamic State fighters near an oilfield in the southeast of the country, a local official said Saturday.

Two soldiers were also killed and five wounded during clashes over two days, one of which took place near the Dhahra oilfield Saturday, said Umar al-Faqeh, head of the Maradah administration to which the area belongs. There had been fighting in another area Friday, he added.

The Dhahra field is operated by Waha, a joint venture between Libya’s state National Oil Company and U.S. firms Hess, Marathon and ConocoPhillips.

The oil protection force guarding the Waha operations is allied to Libya’s eastern government. The U.N.-backed administration is in the capital, Tripoli, in western Libya.

Libya has been mired in conflict since the toppling of long-time ruler Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

In December, armed men blew up a Waha pipeline pumping crude to Es Sider port, temporarily cutting Libyan output by around 100,000 barrels per day. Officials blamed terrorists, without giving details.

The area has poor security, and sources say it has been populated by Islamic State fighters since they lost control of their stronghold in Libya, the central city of Sirte, in 2016.