Africa

Libya oil storage tanks ablaze after assault by IS

  • 7 January 2016
  • From the section Africa
Image grab of oil storage tanks on fire in Sidra. 5 Jan 2016 Image copyright AFP
Image caption The tanks are believed to hold more than 400,000 barrels of oil

Shelling by so-called Islamic State (IS) on an oil terminal in Libya has started fires that have spread to giant storage tanks, officials say.

The fires are reported to be raging in Sidra, on the coast between Sirte and Benghazi.

Officials said at least 10 guards had been killed since IS attacked the neighbouring ports on Monday.

Warplanes from Libya's internationally recognised government have provided air support to help defend the area.

Libya has been split between rival militias and two competing governments since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

IS has been operating in Libya for about a year, and in December France warned that the group was aiming to seize the country's oil wells.

Ali al-Hassi, of the Petrol Facilities Guard militia, told the BBC that five storage tanks were on fire in Sidra but none in Ras Lanouf, as earlier reported.

Each rank is thought to contain more than 400,000 barrels of oil.

Mr Hassi also said guards had recovered the bodies of 30 militants and had captured military vehicles.

On Monday, IS said it had taken control of the town of Bin Jawad, 30km (19 miles) west of Sidra on the road from its stronghold in Sirte.

The jihadists failed to take Sidra in an attack last October.

In December, Libya's rival politicians signed a UN-brokered deal to form a unity government, but that has not yet been implemented.


Libya's rival power bases (as of August 2015)

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