U.S. warplanes carried out air strikes against Islamic State-linked militants in western Libya on Friday, killing as many as 40 people in an operation targeting a suspect linked to two deadly attacks last year in neighboring Tunisia.
It was the second U.S. air strike in three months against Islamic State in Libya, where the hardline Islamist militants have exploited years of chaos following Muammar Gaddafi’s 2011 overthrow to build up a presence on the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
The Pentagon said it had targeted an Islamic State training camp and killed a Tunisian militant linked to major attacks on tourists in Tunisia.
The mayor of the Libyan city of Sabratha, Hussein al-Thwadi, told Reuters the planes struck at 3:30 a.m. (0130 GMT), hitting a building in the city’s Qasr Talil district, home to many foreigners.
He said 41 people had been killed and six wounded. The death toll could not immediately be confirmed with other officials.
Photos released by the municipal authorities showed a massive crater in grey earth. Several wounded men lay bandaged in hospital.
The air strikes targeted a house in a residential district about 8 km (5 miles) west of the center, the municipal authorities said in a statement.
The house had been rented to foreigners including Tunisians suspected of belonging to Islamic State, and medium-caliber weapons including machineguns and rocket-propelled grenades had been found in the rubble, the statement said.
Tunisian security sources have said they believe Tunisian Islamic State fighters have been trained in camps near Sabratha, which is close to the Tunisian border.
Among those Washington said it targeted in the air strikes was Noureddine Chouchane, a Tunisian blamed by his native country for attacks last year on a Tunis museum and the Sousse beach resort, which killed dozens of tourists.