Southern Libya has become a “viper’s nest” for Islamist militants and the only way to tackle it is with a strong collective response from neighbouring countries, France’s defence minister said in remarks published on Monday.

“We are increasingly worried. It’s a viper’s nest in which jihadists are returning, acquiring weapons and recruiting,” Jean-Yves Le Drian said in an transcript of an interview provided by the ministry. “It is dangerous and the conditions are not in place to find a solution.”

Two-and-a-half years after the fall of former leader Muammar Gaddafi, the oil-rich North African state is struggling to contain violence between rival forces, with Islamist militants gaining an ever-stronger grip on the south of the country. […]