Oil facility damaged in clashes in town in western Libya

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CAIRO (AP) — Clashes between government-allied militias in western Libya have damaged a sprawling oil facility, the state oil company said on Saturday, the latest blow to the energy sector in the Mediterranean nation. hit by chaos.

Fighting broke out in the coastal town of Zawiya on Friday between two rival militias allied to the government of Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, based in the capital Tripoli.

The National Oil Corp. said the fighting damaged at least 29 sites, including storage tanks, at the Zawiya refinery complex. He said an assessment was continuing to determine the extent of the damage. The refinery is a major source of heating oil raising fears of an energy crisis amid the summer heat.

The National Human Rights Commission, a local group, condemned the clashes, which pitted the so-called Stability Support Authority against the so-called Zawiya Criminal Investigation Department.

It is not known what caused the clashes.

Dbeibah vowed to hold those responsible for the clashes accountable without naming the two militias involved. A rival administration, led by powerful figure Fathi Bashagha, has expressed concern and called on armed groups to end fighting that has claimed an unknown number of lives.

Tensions have soared in Libya, particularly in the western region, since the eastern-based parliament appointed Bashagha in February to lead a transitional government after the country failed to hold elections last month. last year. Occasional fighting between militias also took place in the capital.

Bashagha has yet to sit in the capital as Dbeibah has remained defiant of efforts to replace his government, insisting he will only hand over power to an elected government.

Tribal leaders and protesters in the southern region have also shut down oil facilities, including Libya’s largest oilfield., demanding the resignation of Dbeibah. The area is controlled by the forces of eastern-based commander Khalifa Hifter.

The blockade came as oil prices have soared since Russia’s war with Ukraine. Brent crude, the international price standard, traded above $106 a barrel on Friday.

The developments have raised fears that the country could return to civil war amid the ongoing standoff between the two rival governments.

The oil-rich North African country has been wracked by conflict since the NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country has been fragmented for years between rival administrations in the east and west, each backed by armed and foreign groups. Governments.

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