The Islamic State group on Thursday claimed a suicide car bomb attack in central Libya against the forces of strongman Khalifa Haftar, a day after it killed three militia men.

The attack on Wednesday in the Waddan region is the first claimed by the group in the violence-ridden north African country since October.

The group's Amaq propaganda arm said in an online statement that the blast at a checkpoint of the "apostate militia of Haftar" was carried out by a suicide bomber.

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Libya has been gripped by chaos since a Nato-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with rival administrations and multiple militias vying for control of the oil-rich country.

Haftar supports an administration based in the east of the country. A UN-backed unity government based in the capital Tripoli has struggled to assert its authority outside the west.

ISIS jihadists remain active in central and southern Libya despite being forced out of their northern stronghold Sirte in 2016.

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