By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 7 February 2015:
Five oil workers – three Filipinos and two Nigereans – are understood to still be . . .[restrict]missing following Tuesday’s attack on the Mabruk oil field, during which at least ten people were killed.
The Philippines Embassy in Tripoli confirmed that three nationals were missing, understood to have been kidnapped in the raid. The embassy said it was in close communication with the Italian oil services company SOGEPI SRL which employed the men.
Mabrouk Zway, Minister of Oil and Gas in the Tripoli-based administration headed by Omar Al-Hassi, said that two Nigerean employees remained unaccounted for. Another Nigerean was still at the site – he is believed to have hidden during the raid – and was in regular communication with the ministry, Zway said.
There had been 57 workers, including 23 non-nationals, at the site when the violent attack was carried out, he said.
More details are now emerging about the incident, outlined in a preliminary report prepared by the Tripoli-based government, which has control over the Mabrouk oil field.
The attack, which lasted two and a half hours, started at 2.30 pm on Tuesday, when a group of between 30 and 40 armed men stormed the gates of the oil field. A firefight with medium and heavy weaponry ensued as the oil field guards struggled to stave off the attackers. Nine of the guards were killed along with one Nigerean employee, and the attackers gained entry to the site.
Once inside, they started firing indiscriminately, including at offices and residential areas of the camp, according to the report, which was complied from eye-witness accounts from staff members who eventually escaped unharmed. The men told all the workers to go outside and gathered them in an open area.
A member of security personnel working at a nearby oil field said he was told that, once gathered outside, the staff were lectured about Islam, and Libyan employees were insulted for working for foreign companies. This detail was not, however, included in the report.
The oil workers were threatened with death if they did not follow instructions. They were told to remove their SIM cards from their phones, and had both the cards and the phones confiscated. It seems to have been at this point that the three Filipino workers, along with two of the Libyan guards, were singled out. When one employee pleaded with the attackers, they reportedly said that they would kill the soldiers but would take the Filipinos to their “Emir.”
It is not clear whether these two soldiers were among the nine who were confirmed killed.
All the oil workers were then told to get into several small buses without looking to the left, the right, or behind them and drive out of the camp. They did so, with several driving to other oil facilities in the area, with seven going as far as the town of Sirte, 170 kilometres north of the Mabrouk oil field.
The employees who escaped reported that attackers stole everything they could from the site, including vehicles, guns, ammunition and even food. Any vehicles they were not able to take, they set alight, the report said. They also set fire to parts of the camp, including an area beside an oil well and threatened to burn down the main station.
Some guards from other oil fields in the area had since arrived at the area, Zway said, to remove the dead and ensure that the employees were flown back safely back to Tripoli. It is not clear why the Nigerean man remained at the site.
Zway added that another group of security and ministry personnel were planning a visit to the Mabrouk oil field to assess the full extent of the damage.
He offered assurances to national and international companies that safety and security was a priority. “The Ministry of Oil and Gas always tries to remain outside any conflict, to preserve our Libyan financial interests,” he said. [/restrict]