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Islamic State militants attack Lybia's Ras Lanuf oil terminal

Islamic State militants attack Lybia's Ras Lanuf oil terminal

Libya

Militants affiliated to the Islamic State set fire on Thursday to oil storage tanks in a fresh assault on Ras Lanuf terminal in northern Libya.

According to an energy official, the militants drove into the oil storage site early in the morning, had a confrontation with security guards before retreating and firing from a distance and set four tanks on fire.

The terminal will remain closed for a long time because of the damage inflicted on Thursday and in earlier attacks, said Mustafa Sanalla, chairman of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) in Lybia.

The Islamic State militants also targeted a pipeline leading from the Amal oil field to the nearby Es Sider terminal, the biggest on Libya’s Mediterranean coast.

Ras Lanuf and Es Sider together have an export capacity of 600,000 barrels per day. They were processing about half of that before they were both closed in December 2014.

The NOC said the area was facing an “environmental catastrophe”, with huge columns of smoke billowing from the fires and damage to power lines supplying residential and industrial districts.

Islamic State is gaining ground in Libya, which remains in a state of chaos after the toppling of its leader Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising of 2011.

The group has taken responsibility for, or is suspected of being behind several attacks apparently aimed at seizing control of oil infrastructure.

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