Sunday, September 23, 2018
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Libya National Oil Corporation HQ attacked

Libya NOC attackArmed men attacked the headquarters of Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) in Tripoli, killing two staff members, a security official said.

In the first attack against top managers of Libya’s state oil industry, two gunmen were killed and at least 10 NOC staff wounded, officials said.

Security forces regained control of the landmark glass-fronted building in the centre of the city.

The attack came less than a week after a fragile truce halted fierce clashes between rival armed groups in Tripoli, the latest eruption of violence in Libya, which has been in turmoil since a 2011 uprising toppled Muammar Gaddafi.

Armed groups regularly block oilfields to make demands with NOC headquarters so far not targeted.

The NOC provides the bulk of Libya’s state income and with the Tripoli-based central bank is one of the only state institutions still functioning amid chaos.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack. The interior ministry said in a statement initial indications showed the gunmen belonged to Islamic State, which previously carried out attacks in Tripoli and other Libyan towns and cities.

Gunfire rang out in the morning as security forces allied to the Tripoli-based government arrived.

“The death toll so far is two killed from NOC staff and two attackers,” said Ahmad Ben Salim, spokesman for the Special Deterrence Force (Rada), one of the most powerful factions in Tripoli.

Security forces smashed windows so staff could escape and several people were hurt by shattered glass, witnesses said. NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla and his office manager were seen safely leaving the building.

OIL PRODUCTION

Libya has been divided between rival governments and military factions based in the east and west of the country since 2014, causing political deadlock and an economic crisis.

The NOC continued to function relatively normally across Libya, which relies on oil exports for most of its income. Oil production has been hit by attacks on oil facilities and blockades, though last year it partially recovered to around a million barrels per day.

Islamist militants have sleeper cells in northern cities as well as mobile units in Libya’s southern desert, according to Libyan and Western officials.

In May, Islamic State claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on the national election commission offices in Tripoli. The group also claimed an attack in 2015 on the Corinthia Hotel, a landmark location in Tripoli.

The NOC attack came a day after the United Nations said major armed factions agreed to freeze their positions to extend the ceasefire.

 

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