A militia group in Libya – the Benghazi Defense Forces – launched an attack on eastern military units in an area close to oil facilities in the country. The facilities included three oil terminals north of the country’s major oil fields. Three people died during the fighting and ten others were wounded, Reuters reported.
A spokesperson for Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), a force that controls oil terminals in eastern Libya, stated that the facilities were not threatened immediately, but that the PFG was ready to protect them. The PFG controls the terminals in question. And is loyal to the government.
Libya’s UN-backed unity government condemned the attack in a published Facebook statement: “The Presidential Council strongly condemns this criminal act and holds the leaders and members of these militias fully responsible,” according to The Daily Star. The fighting erupted south of the coastal town of Ajdabiya.
The fighting near Ajdabiya, close to three oil terminals and north of major oil fields, risks opening a new front in the conflict between forces that backed competing governments set up in Tripoli and the east in 2014.
The Benghazi Defence Forces is largely composed of fighters pushed back earlier this year by brigades loyal to the eastern government commander Khalifa Haftar.
Armed groups in Libya have remained highly fragmented in the political turmoil that followed the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Islamic State established a presence in several parts of the country from 2014, and has been active between Benghazi and the militant group’s coastal stronghold of Sirte, about 380 km to the west.