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BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Libyan forces fought suspected Islamic State fighters, killing three of them near an oilfield run by Waha Oil in the southeast of the country, military officials said on Saturday.

The clash took place near the Dhahra oilfield, operated by Waha, a joint-venture between Libya's state National Oil Company and U.S. firms Hess, Marathon and ConocoPhillips.

The oil protection force guarding the Waha operations is allied to country's eastern government. The U.N.-backed administration sits in the capital Tripoli in western Libya.

The North African country has been mired in conflict since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and in December armed men blew up a Waha pipeline pumping crude to Es Sider port, temporarily cutting Libyan output by around 100,000 barrels per day. Officials blamed "terrorists", without giving details.

The area has poor security and sources say it has been populated by Islamic State fighters since they lost control of their stronghold in Libya, the central city of Sirte, in 2016.

(Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Edting by Alexander Smith)

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Reuters