Egypt announced on the 9 Nov 15 that its army had destroyed 31 tunnels connecting the besieged Gaza Strip and Egypt last month, an army spokesman has said. In Oct 15 Egyptian forces "discovered and successfully destroyed 31 tunnels on the border line of Rafah city", army spokesman Brigadier General Mohamed Samir said in a statement referring to a city that straddles the Egypt-Gaza border. The Egyptian army's announcement came the same day as a meeting between Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a political rival of Hamas, in Cairo. Sisi said that Egypt's measures in the Gaza border area were intended to "secure the borders" and that the Rafah crossing could operate "normally" if the PA were to take control of it. Home to some 1.8 million Palestinians, Gaza has suffered a plummeting humanitarian situation due to an airtight blockade. Enforced by Israel and Egypt, the blockade has been in place since the Hamas political organisation took control of the Strip in 2007. For Palestinians in the besieged coastal enclave, smuggling tunnels provide access to food, medicine, building supplies and other necessities.
Libya/Serbia – Two Serbian embassy staff members were abducted in Libya on the 8 Sep 15 when their diplomatic convoy, including the ambassador, came under fire in the coastal city of Sabratha. Serbia's foreign ministry named the kidnapped pair as Sladjana Stankovic, a female communications officer, and Jovica Stepic, a male driver. Serbian state television said, citing sources that Ambassador Oliver Potezica was in the motorcade but was uninjured. It said Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic had spoken with Libyan officials and quoted him as saying he "expects a positive outcome within the next 48 hours." A Libyan security source confirmed the ambassador's escape and said the vehicle carrying the two kidnapped staff was stopped by gunmen in two cars. Four years after the overthrow of leader Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is in turmoil, split between two rival governments and the armed factions who back them. Parts of the north African country are under the sway of militants, criminal gangs and tribal fighters. Diplomats and foreign nationals have been targeted in the past for kidnapping, mostly for ransom or to demand the release of Libyan fighters being held by overseas governments. Islamist militants have also targeted foreigners.
Serbian diplomats in Libya were not immediately reachable for comment. A Serbian government official in Belgrade, who asked not to be named, said: "It appears it was an ambush, a shooting." The Serbian foreign ministry said it was making "utmost efforts to gather information and secure the safe return of our citizens". Most western diplomats and other foreign nationals have left Tripoli after an armed faction called Libya Dawn took over the capital last year, installing a new self-declared government and reinstating the old parliament. Since then, Libya's internationally recognised government and elected parliament has operated out of the east of the country, backed by a loose coalition of armed factions. Serbia has diplomatic relations with this government, based in Tobruk. Sabratha, just west of Tripoli, is along a coast road where several armed factions operate, mostly allied with their local towns or regions. It was not clear what the Serbian convoy was doing in the area.
Libya/Islamic State – A US air strike has targeted the leader of the Islamic State (IS) group in Libya and probably killed him, the Pentagon said and was reported on the 14 Nov 15. Iraqi national Abu Nabil, also known as Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al-Zubaydi, was a "long-time al-Qaeda operative", it said. The strike took place on the 13 Nov 15 and targeted a compound in Derna. The Pentagon said the strike showed that it would go after IS leaders "wherever they operate". News agencies have quoted US officials saying they are confident Nabil was killed. "Nabil's death will degrade ISIL's ability to meet the group's objectives in Libya, including recruiting new ISIL members, establishing bases in Libya, and planning external attacks on the United States," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said, using a different name for the group. He said the operation had been authorised before terrorist attacks in Paris on the 13 Nov 15 that IS claimed responsibility for. Cook added that Nabil may have been the IS spokesman pictured in a Feb 15 video showing the apparent murder of Coptic Christians in Libya. The strike on Nabil was the first against an IS leader in Libya, the Pentagon said.