8 Libyans, at Least 4 Foreigners Killed in Eastern Oilfield as 7 Missing

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Fajr Libya forces are seen as they deploy near a military airport during the clashes against tribes, in Tripoli, Libya, on February 5, 2015. Anadolu/Hazem Turkia.

Published Thursday, February 5, 2015

The number of casualties in al-Mabrook oilfield in eastern Libya increased to at least 12, including four foreigners, while seven others were abducted, officials said on Wednesday.

According to preliminary reports, unknown assailants killed four Libyans when they stormed the oilfield and there were no foreigners among the casualties. But on Wednesday officials put the number of casualties higher.

Yet no accurate single report on the death toll has been made public.

"Eight Libyans, three Filipinos and two Ghanians were killed in the attack" at the al-Mabrook field, said officer Hakim Maazab, the head security guard at a nearby oil complex. According to other sources there were two Filipinos among the killed foreigners.

"All of them had their throats slit, apart from one Libyan, who was shot dead," Maazab added.

Previously, the state-owned National Oil Company (NOC) had said staff were evacuated from the field.

"An unidentified armed group attacked the field but personnel were evacuated in time," NOC spokesman Mohammed al-Harari told AFP.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. A spokesman for the guards at Libya's oil installations, Ali al-Hassi, accused militants loyal to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) of carrying out the attack, without providing details.

"The field is outside of our control. Islamic State is controlling it," he said, using an alternative term for ISIS.

The violence followed an assault on a hotel in Tripoli on January 27 that killed nine people, including five foreigners, underscoring the deteriorating security situation in Libya.

The Philippines Foreign Ministry said earlier on Wednesday that three Filipinos were among seven foreign nationals who had been kidnapped in the Mabrook assault. But Maazab said nobody was kidnapped in the attack.

French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll earlier said Paris was seeking to confirm casualties in the attack but added that "no Westerners" had been killed.

"We have been informed that an armed group has attacked the Mabrook site," a spokeswoman for Total said, adding that the company had previously withdrawn all of its personnel.

"Total is not the operator. The site is operated by the Mabrook Oil Operation, which is managed by the NOC," she added.

Mabrook sits some 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of the coastal city of Sirte, the hometown of slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

There was no production from the Mabrook field at the time of the attack because of restricted export capacity at terminals on the coast.

Fajr Libya (Libyan Dawn) militants, which control the capital Tripoli and third city Misrata, launched an offensive in December to try to capture the export terminals from forces loyal to the internationally-recognized government, causing significant damage.

Oil is Libya's main natural resource, with a pre-revolt output of about 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd), accounting for more than 95 percent of exports and 75 percent of budget revenues.

But production fell to around 350,000 bpd in December when the Fajr Libya alliance attacked the terminals.

Since Gaddafi’s overthrow in a NATO-backed revolt in 2011, Sirte has become a stronghold of extremist groups, including Ansar al-Sharia, which is blacklisted by the United Nations and the United States for its links to al-Qaeda.

(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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