TRIPOLI (Reuters) - An armed group guarding a major Libyan oil field attacked the headquarters of the Petroleum Facilities Guard in Tripoli on Tuesday, and five people were wounded in the violence, the oil force said.
In a statement on its Facebook page, the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), which secures Libya’s oil facilities, said the armed men were from the western mountain town of Zintan and were among guards who protect the Sharara oilfield. Sharara can pump around 350,000 barrels per day (bpd).
“A group of armed men came to attack the headquarters. We tried to defend it and there were clashes,” Colonel Ali Elahrash, of the PFG, said.
“Everything is now under control.”
A source within the force said the men were said to be disgruntled after another group was given supervision of a drill in the area, but this could not immediately be verified.
Members of the Zintan group could not immediately be reached for comment.
The PFG statement said five people were injured in the fighting including three bystanders and two members of the oil force.
“The attackers went onto the roofs of nearby buildings and started shooting. They also used heavy weapons,” the statement said. It added there had been negotiations with the men before the clashes but gave no further details.
The source added that backup - other force members and the national guard - had arrived to support the PFG and oust the attackers from around the headquarters on the southern outskirts of the capital.
The PFG operates under the official remit of the Defence Ministry, but only about 2,000 of its 15,000 members have had training from the military.
The rest are former rebels who fought to oust Muammar Gaddafi in the North African country’s 2011 war.
Ill-trained and using weapons left over from the conflict, the men have fought amongst themselves in the past, causing disruptions at oil facilities.
Reporting by Ghaith Shennib and Marie-Louise Gumuchian; editing by Anthony Barker and Jane Baird