Clashes erupt in eastern Libya over oil facilities

Forces loyal to Libya's recognized government conducted air strikes on targets near the eastern oil ports of Ras Lanuf and Es-Sider to stop an advance by a rival force towards the facilities, officials said.

Clashes erupt in eastern Libya over oil facilities

World Bulletin/News Desk

Clashes erupted Saturday morning between members of the Dawn of Libya militia and guards of petroleum facilities in the Wadi al-Ahmar region in eastern Libya, eyewitnesses reported.

"Warplanes bombed several areas belonging to the Dawn of Libya militia in the Bin Jawad area adjacent to the northern city of Sirte," an eyewitness told The Anadolu Agency.

Bashir Bozverh, who commands a battalion in the eastern town of Ajdabiya, said the violence erupted when militants marched towards Wadi al-Ahmar, which is controlled by government forces.

"But the attack was repelled with the Dawn of Libya militants retreating to the Bin Jawad area, where clashes are currently taking place," Bozverh said.

"Army warplanes are currently raiding several locations of the Dawn of Libya militants in Bin Jawad," he added.

The oil ports, two of Libya's biggest, accounting for more than 300,000 barrels a day of exports, were working normally, an oil official said.

Saqer al-Joroushi, an air force commander allied to Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni, said his aircraft had attacked positions near Sirte, a costal city in central Libya.

He said a rival force from Misrata, a coastal city west of Sirte and the ports, had advanced towards the terminals with a large number of vehicles. "We bombed them to stop them from entering the ports," he said.

Tripoli-based al-Nabaa television said a force it said had been mandated by the General National Congress (GNC), a rival assembly based in Tripoli since a group called Libya Dawn seized the capital in August, had started an operation to take the ports.

It quoted the head of the force, adding that two people had been killed in clashes near Es-Sider port. Websites close to Libya Dawn also said such an operation had started.

Thinni has been forced to work out of the east since Libya Dawn seized the capital Tripoli after a one-month battle, setting up its own cabinet and reinstating the previous assembly, the GNC.

The North African country is caught in a conflict between two competing governments, parliaments and chiefs of staff, allied to armed factions, part of turmoil three years after the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi.

In the three years since, rival militias have often locked horns, frequently bringing violence to Libya's main cities, including capital Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi.

The Libyan government, meanwhile, has appeared largely absent from the scene.

The sharp divisions have yielded two rival seats of government in the country, each of which has its own institutions.

Two assemblies currently vie for legislative authority: the House of Representatives, which convenes in the eastern city of Tobruk; and the General National Congress, which – even though its mandate ended in August – continues to convene in capital Tripoli.

The two parliaments support two different governments respectively headquartered in the two cities.

Both governments have sought to control the oil facilities, the country's only source of income. Last month, Libya Dawn took over the southern El Sharara oilfield, one of the country's biggest, after a rival force from Zintan allied to Thinni had withdrawn.

Thinni said last week his government were trying to control the oil revenues by setting up a payment system outside the central bank in Tripoli.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Aralık 2014, 16:26

Muhammed Öylek