At least seven members of the notorious al-Qaeda- affiliate, Ansar al-Sharia, died in the Libyan city of Sirte from an explosion on late Monday night, but no one is certain who killed the Jihadists, according to a statement from the Libyan Deputy Defense Minister Khaled al- Sharif released on Tuesday.
Ansar al-Sharia was created by radical Muslims during the 2011 uprising in Benghazi that ousted the former Libyan dictator Moamar Khadhafi and his brutal regime with the help of the United States and NATO.
The group is alleged to have attacked the American diplomatic mission in city of Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, in which U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other U.S diplomatic staff members were murdered.
However, Ansar al-Sharif denies their fighters were killed by either Libyan security forces or a U.S. drone strike. The group claims their members died as a result of ammunition that they packed in their vehicle blowing up while they were driving.
According to an Israeli counterterrorism source, Ansar al-Sharia runs a training camp for Jihadist combatants only a few miles from Sirte.
Accusations that the explosion came from a U.S. drone attack circulated shortly after the alleged accident. But Ansar al-Sharia released a statement on Tuesday denying it was a drone strike.
The accusation of a U.S. drone strike are adding fuel to the fires of discontent in Libya since the U.S. disclosed it carried out a raid to capture the al-Qaeda suspect Anas Abu al-Libi on Oct. 5, 2013, and brought him to the United States to stand trial for his part in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, according to an Examiner news report.
According to a number of law enforcement and military terrorism experts, Libyans are witnessing an accelerated deterioration of security as well as escalating brutality and violence over the past several months.
The Libyan government claims it is struggling to halt the increased proliferation of arms and militias in the country, both of which have increased in the last two years with the end of the revolt against the Libyan dictator.