TRIPOLI: Gunmen in Libya killed 13 people, three of them Filipinos, in an overnight attack on an oil field partly owned by France’s Total, a chief security officer said on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).
“Eight Libyans, three Filipinos and two Ghanians were killed in the attack” at the Al-Mabruk field, said officer Hakim Maazzab, the head security guard at a nearby oil complex.
“All of them had their throats slit, apart from one Libyan, who was shot dead.”
The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is yet to confirm the deaths of the three Filipinos.
Charles Jose, Foreign Affairs spokesman, said in a text message that the latest report they had from the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli was that three Filipinos were among the seven abducted from the Mabruk Oil Field in central Libya.
“We have no verified report about any Filipinos being killed,” he added.
In July last year, a Filipino construction worker was beheaded by militants and a Filipina nurse was kidnapped and gang-raped by a group of Libyan youth.
There are some 4,000 Filipinos in Libya even after the Philippine government have implemented the mandatory repatriation of its citizens there because of high threats to their security.
A spokesman for the guards at Libya’s oil installations, Ali al-Hassi, accused militants loyal to the Islamic State group of carrying out the attack, without providing details.
Al-Mabruk sits some 100 kilometers south of the coastal city of Sirte, the hometown of slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll earlier said Paris was seeking to confirm casualties in the attack but added that “no Westerners” had been killed.
“We have been informed that an armed group has attacked the Mabruk site,” a spokeswoman for Total said, adding that the company had previously withdrawn all of its personnel.
“Total is not the operator. The site is operated by the Mabruk Oil Operation, which is managed by the NOC,” she said.
Since Kadhafi’s overthrow in a NATO-backed revolt in 2011, Sirte has become a stronghold of extremist groups, including Ansar al-Sharia, which is blacklisted by the United Nations and the United States for its links to al-Qaeda.
There was no production from the Al-Mabruk field at the time of the attack because of restricted export capacity at terminals on the coast.
An Islamist-backed militia alliance, which controls the capital Tripoli and third city Misrata, launched an offensive in December to try to capture the export terminals from forces loyal to the internationally recognized government, causing significant damage.
Oil is Libya’s main natural resource, with a pre-revolt output of about 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd), accounting for more than 95 percent of exports and 75 percent of budget revenues.