At least seven people were killed and several wounded in an Islamic State (Isis) attack on the Libyan city of Benghazi on Sunday (18 December). Medical and security officials in the area said the bomb blast targeted forces loyal to the eastern government in Libya.

A local medical source told Reuters that all the victims of the attack belonged to the Libyan National Army (LNA) – a self-styled force loyal to eastern commander Khalifa Haftar, who is leading a military campaign in Benghazi for over two years against Islamist militants and other opponents of the government.

The attack took place in the besieged district of Ganfouda, one of the last LNA-held areas resisting Islamist insurgency. Earlier on Saturday (17 December), the LNA claimed that it had taken control of buildings along the seafront west of Ganfouda, encircling its opponents.

Ahmed al-Masmari, an LNA spokesman, said their troops killed 13 fighters from "terrorist groups" in Saturday's clashes. At least three LNA soldiers were also killed in the fighting, the news agency quoted security and medical officials as saying.

The ongoing Benghazi conflict has its origins in the civil war that erupted in the country following the removal of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Gaddafi ruled the country for almost four decades, but after his government was toppled, several political and military groups attempted to initiate an uprising leading to a civil war.

The LNA in Benghazi is currently fighting the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC), a coalition of Islamists and self-proclaimed revolutionaries, and militants loyal to IS (Daesh).

The ongoing conflicts have taken a toll on the civilians. There were recent efforts to evacuate those who were trapped in the fighting in Ganfouda, but only small numbers of women and children and foreign workers have so far managed to leave the area. The LNA spokesman said that as of Sunday, about 120 families still remained inside Ganfouda.

At least seven members of the Libyan National Army were killed in an Islamic State attack in Benghazi on Sunday, 18 December - File photo Reuters