Libyan oil tanks still ablaze after Daesh attacks
Smoke billows from a fire at a Libya oil depot in 2014. (AFP/File)
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At least five massive oil storage tanks have caught fire in two oil terminals in Libya after attacks by Daesh militants.
The attacks originally ignited fires at the key terminals in Sidra and Ras Lanouf, located between the city of Sirte – which is controlled by Daesh – and the eastern city of Benghazi.
Ali al-Hassi, a spokesman for the Petroleum Facilities Guards, said on Wednesday that the fires have now spread to the storage tanks.
Daesh was not able to take control of Sidra and Ras Lanouf in the attacks, he added.
At least 10 guards were killed and dozens were injured in the attacks on Monday and Tuesday.
The militants are said to have received air cover from forces loyal to the General National Congress (GNC), one of the two rival governments in Libya that is in control of the capital, Tripoli.
Firefighters have been trying to extinguish the blaze in the terminals. Officials said each of the oil tanks is estimated to be storing 420,000 to 460,000 barrels of oil.
Unable to quell the fire, the National Oil Co. said it was “helpless and not being able to do anything against this deliberate destruction to the oil installations.”
It urged “all faithful and honorable people of this homeland to hurry to rescue what is left from our resources before it is too late.”
Hassi, meanwhile, said guards have discovered the bodies of 30 Daesh militants, and managed to capture two military tanks and other cars from the militant group.
The North African country has been struggling with instability since 2011, when its then dictator Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in an insurgency backed by NATO airstrikes.
Since then, armed groups and regional factions have been fighting for power.
Daesh, meanwhile, has taken advantage of the power vacuum to assert its presence and declared Sirte as its base in Africa, where beheadings and other crimes are a rule of the day.
Libya’s internationally-recognized government, headed by Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni, is based in the eastern city of Bayda, with its elected House of Representatives based in Tobruk.
Back in December, the rival politicians in the oil-rich state signed a UN-backed agreement to establish a unity government, but the deal is yet to be implemented.
Editor's note: This article has been edited from the source material