Jihadists raid National Oil Corporation in Tripoli
TRIPOLI – A faction of armed rebels has stormed the headquarters of the Libyan National Oil Corporation (Noc) in Tripoli, a local Arab news agency has reported on Monday.
According to the Arab source, a loud explosion was heard. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack however, according to Dubai based tv Alaan and Dpa news agency, a group of jihadists of the Islamic State may have been the executors. Reports suggest six attackers were killed after a three-hour siege.
A video posted on Facebook by Rada, the Libyan interior ministry forces, show the debris of a kamikaze attack, likely to be the cause of the explosion. The explosion paved the raid into the Noc headquarters. This intervention method is commonly used by militia linked to the Islamic State.
Italy’s foreign minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi has flown to Benghazi as announced by the Farnesina’s twitter account. Moavero will meet with general Khalifa Haftar to forward an “inclusive political dialogue with all parties for a stable and united Libya” as stated by UN special envoy, Ghassam Salamè.
Libyan security forces have secured the perimeter of the Noc building where the raiders are now hidden. Ambulances have arrived in assistance to the wounded.
According to local sources, some Noc employees may have managed to flee the building however the number of hostages is still unclear. The Libya interior minister spoke about an armed siege with hostages.
The President of Noc, Mustafa Sanallah, “is in a safe location” said 218 TV, a local source close to Noc. Moreover, according to Reuters, many employees were hit by bullets while attempting to evacuate the building.
Noc is the largest oil company in the country, managing most of the Libyan supplies. Over the years it has signed contracts with Italian multination energy corporation Eni.
If the jihadist claims are confirmed, a new player may enter the Libyan crisis, contributing to a further destabilization of the region. A state of emergency and ceasefire was declared in Libyan capital Tripoli last week.