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article imageLibyan strongman force takes key oil field in south: spokesman

By AFP     Feb 21, 2019 in World

A force loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar announced Thursday it had taken control of a key oil field in the conflict-wracked country's south.

Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) "have peacefully taken control of the Al-Fil field", spokesman Ahmad al-Mesmari said on Facebook.

Al-Fil currently produces about 73,000 barrels a day and is managed by Mellitah Oil and Gas, a joint venture between Italy's Eni and Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC).

The North African country has been torn between rival administrations, myriad militias and jihadists since the overthrow and killing of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord is recognised by the international community, but a parallel administration in eastern Libya is backed by the LNA.

Since mid-January the LNA has been conducting a military operation in the south aimed at rooting out "terrorists" and foreign fighters.

It already controls most of the important oil terminals in the country's east, and earlier this month it seized the Al-Sharara field some 900 kilometres (560 miles) south of Tripoli.

It entrusts the management of those sites to the NOC -- which tries to juggle ties with the rival camps.

In a separate incident in the country's south, armed men murdered a security official in the town of Murzuk, the UN-backed government said, a day after LNA forces entered.

General Ibrahim Mohamad Kari was killed Wednesday by "an outlawed armed group", the government said, calling the killing a "cowardly crime" and vowing to bring the culprits to justice.

Libyan media said Kari, a member of the minority Tubu community, was killed when armed men raided his home in Murzuk.

On Wednesday night, Haftar's LNA said it had entered and taken control of Murzuk as part of the offensive launched in January.

Haftar's forces have accused some Tubu of supporting the Chadian rebels.

Murzuk is a stronghold of the Tubus, many of whom are opposed to Haftar's offensive, and lies in a region where tensions run high between them and Arab tribes, who have largely joined LNA ranks.

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