Libya minister says Sudan aided oil terminal attack

Published December 31st, 2014 - 06:30 GMT

A Libyan minister from the internationally recognized government in Tobruk has renewed accusations against Sudan of supporting the Islamist rebel faction Libyan Dawn. 

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, the minister said information obtained by his government from Libyan military intelligence indicated that Sudanese technicians had assisted pilots from the Libyan Dawn group in commandeering a plane that struck oil tanks in the Sidra port during the past week.

The attack launched on Libya’s largest oil terminal saw militants fire rockets from speedboats, setting alight huge oil tanks and causing Libya’s oil production to plunge by two-thirds, to 350,000 barrels per day (bpd), according to the state oil company.

Libyan Dawn captured large parts of the Libyan capital Tripoli in September, forcing the internationally recognized government of Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni out of the city, with its parliament relocated to Tobruk, near the Egyptian border. Libyan Dawn set up its own rival parliament in Tripoli.

“Something like this cannot happen without the knowledge or agreement of the Sudanese government,” the minister said of the attack.

He said this went against promises made by Khartoum to Thinni during a visit the prime minister made to the Sudanese capital in October.

Thinni’s government has in the past accused Sudan of supporting Libyan Dawn, claiming the Sudanese government was providing the group with ammunition and other supplies.

The minister said a number of Western leaders had already made offers to help the Tobruk government put out the fires at the Sidra oil terminal, which continue to rage.

At normal levels of operation the terminal is capable of exporting some 400,000 bpd per day. It has been shut down since Libyan Dawn launched the attack on Thursday. Libyan officials have said a total of 800,000 bpd have been lost since the fires began. 

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Tobruk government announced that a suicide bomber had attempted an attack on Tuesday on the hotel where the parliament has been meeting.

No one was killed in the attack but three MPs were injured, he said. The suicide bomber used a booby-trapped vehicle parked outside the hotel entrance, he said, while MPs were in session. 

The situation in Libya has grown increasingly unstable since May when army Gen. Khalifa Haftar dissolved the country’s Islamist-led parliament, known as the General National Congress (GNC).

The current internationally recognized parliament was elected in June but was later deemed to be illegal by the country’s Supreme Court.

By Khalid Mahmoud


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