Libyan militiamen from the western mountain town of Zintan attacked the Tripoli headquarters of the country’s oilfield guards in an attack that left six people injured and highlights growing risks to the sector.
The incident occurred yesterday when the Zintani unit, tasked with guarding the Sharara Oil Fields in the south, surrounded the building and opened fire, leading to a battle between the two groups, according to a statement issued by the Petroleum Facilities Guards, which gave no reason for what triggered the violence. Three PFG guards were wounded, it said.
“The PFG will not tolerate any such criminal acts and intends to take strict disciplinary actions against any who wish to disturb law, order, security and endanger the lives of civilians,” said the PFG, controlled by the Defense Ministry.
Two years after the 2011 war that swept the late Muammar Qaddafi from power, government efforts to revive an economy dependent on oil are being stymied by feuding militias and protests at oil facilities that have cost Libya about 250,000 barrels per day in lost output, Oil Minister Abdulbari Al-Arusi said June 11.
A senior army officer, Lt. Col. Jumaa Al Musrati, died in a hospital in Benghazi today of injuries sustained when a bomb attached to his car exploded, the state-run LANA news agency said.
The oil-rich eastern city, where U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed in an attack on September 11, has been the scene of battles between militias and government forces attempting to bring the area under control. Six soldiers were killed there on June 15 in an assault on two army bases. A week earlier, 32 people died when militias opened fire on demonstrators demanding they disarm.
The Zueitina oil terminal has been shut down at least four times since November, and in March the Italian company Eni SpA halted gas exports to Europe through its Greenstream pipeline for a week after clashes between rival militias at its Mellitah gas plant over a contract to provide security.