Gunmen attack headquarters Libya’s oil corporation: witness

Libya

Several armed men attacked the headquarters of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) in the Libyan capital on Monday and blasts were heard before wounded people were ferried away from the building in ambulances, a Reuters witness said.

Ambulances and security vehicles are seen near the headquarters of Libyan state oil firm National Oil Corporation (NOC) after three masked persons attacked it in Tripoli, Libya (Reuters Photo)

Ambulances and security vehicles are seen near the headquarters of Libyan state oil firm National Oil Corporation (NOC) after three masked persons attacked it in Tripoli, Libya (Reuters Photo)

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

No group immediately claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack. Militants loyal to Islamic State have previously carried out attacks in Tripoli and other Libyan towns and cities.

Gunfire rang out as security forces allied to the Tripoli-based government arrived at the large glass-fronted office complex located in central Tripoli.

“Three or five gunmen were shooting inside the building,” a NOC member of staff told Reuters after he said he had jumped out of a window to flee. “Several people were shot.”

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

Smoke rose into the air as the security forces took up their positions, and surrounding roads were cordoned off.

A member of staff from a hotel next to the NOC offices said he had heard about five blasts.

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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.

However, the NOC has 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 one million barrels per day (bpd).

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

In May, Islamic State claimed 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.

SOURCE: Reuters

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