Official: Libyan Forces Hit Oil Ports with Air Strikes, Minor Damage


BENGHAZI, Libya, March 3 (Reuters) – A warplane belonging to the forces controlling the Libyan capital Tripoli bombed the oil ports of Ras Lanuf and Es Sidra on Tuesday, causing only minor damage, according to a security official allied with the internationally recognised government.

Oilfields and ports are increasingly a target in Libya's conflict, which pits two rival governments and their armed forces against each other, nearly four years after the uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi.

"They targeted the civil airport in Ras Lanuf, and oil tanks in Es Sidra. The rockets fell near the tanks, resulting in only minor damage," said Ali Hassi, who is a spokesman for the forces guarding Libya's oil infrastructure.

Es Sidra and Ras Lanuf – responsible for half of Libya's oil output when operating normally – have both been closed since December because of fighting between rival armed groups.

A spokesman for the Tripoli-allied forces did not immediately respond to a request to confirm the attack.

Islamist militants, who have profited from Libya's chaos to increase their strength, on Monday shelled two oilfields, Bahi and Mabrouk, hitting a pipeline to Es Sidra, although details of the extent of the damage were not known.

The North African OPEC nation's production is currently around 400,000 barrels per day, less than half the 1.6 million bpd it produced before the NATO-backed war that ousted Gaddafi in 2011.

(Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

Copyright 2016 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.


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