Libya hunting oil port attack suspects


Libyan authorities issued arrest warrants for 37 suspects over attacks on key oil ports in the east of the country and a military base in the south, a source in the attorney general’s office said.

The source, who asked not to be named, confirmed the arrest warrants, dated January 2 and leaked on Facebook.

The warrants showed 31 members of the Chadian and Sudanese opposition based in Libya, along with six Libyan nationals, are wanted for attacks on the oil “˜crescent’in the east and on the Tamanhint military base as well as for participation in fighting between Libyan rivals.

After the toppling of veteran Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011, fighters from neighbouring Chad and Sudan joined the turmoil. Competing Libyan armed factions frequently accuse each other of deploying mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa.

The Libyan suspects include Abdul Hakim Belhadj, a rebel leader who helped to topple Gaddafi in 2011 and now an Islamist political leader.

Last year Britain apologised to Belhadj and his wife over the role of British intelligence officers in their 2004 rendition from Thailand to Libya.

Ibrahim Jadhran, accused of launching an attack last June on the oil crescent, is also among those sought by the Libyan authorities.

Jadhran’s forces controlled the oil crescent until it was taken over in 2016 by the Libyan National Army, loyal to Commander Khalifa Haftar in eastern Libya.

The closure of the oil crescent, where key oil ports are located, led to production losses of up to 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) from a total national output of over a million bpd.

Last September, the UN Security Council added Jadhran to the list of individuals subject to an asset freeze and travel ban.

Libya’s east-west division, in place since disputed elections and an escalation of fighting in 2014, split key institutions and produced a deadlock between rump parliaments and the shifting military factions they align with.