Armed men shut down Libya gas facility in Berber region

A Libyan oil worker from the Libyan National oil and gas company walks at the the Zawiya oil installation (22 Aug 2013) Libya's oil and gas production has fallen sharply since July due to various blockades

Armed men have shut down a gas facility in the mountainous western region of the country, predominantly inhabited by members of Libya's Berber minority - also called Amazigh.

The facility taken by the gunmen is near the town of Nalut.

Various groups have blockaded oil and gas facilities in different parts of Libya over the past few months.

The ministry of electricity has warned that the latest closure will lead to severe power cuts.

The BBC's Rana Jawad, in Tripoli, says some in the region's Berber minority fear they will be marginalised as an ethnic group when Libya's constitutional drafting process eventually begins.

The head of Nalut's local council, Salah Ghardaa, told the BBC that the protestors "are fed up with the Libyan Congress's inaction".

Map of Libya showing Nalut

The assembly which will draft Libya's new constitution has not yet been formed.

Among other demands, many in the region want to ensure the recognition of Tamazight, the native language of the Amazigh, in the future constitution, our correspondent says.

Libya's oil and gas production and exports have fallen sharply since July following blockades by striking workers and guards.

They have been driven by a range of grievances including disputes over salaries and allegations of corruption.

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