TRIPOLI: An attack on the headquarters of Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) in Tripoli left at least two people dead and another 10 injured, according to the Interior Ministry.
Earlier Monday, local media outlets had reported that armed clashes — and a loud explosion — could be heard inside the NOC’s main headquarters.
“Security forces are currently engaged in clashes with gunmen inside the NOC building,” one local resident was quoted as saying by Libya’s private Al-Ahrar television channel.
At one point, forces affiliated with Libya’s Tripoli-based unity government sealed all roads leading to the area.
“Six perpetrators attacked the NOC building where they took several hostages,” Interior Minister Abdulsalam Ashour was quoted as saying by Al-Ahrar.
In a subsequent statement, Mustafa Sanalla, chairman of the National Oil Corporation (NOC)’s board of directors, said the incident would not affect national oil production.
He added, however, that the incident had served to reveal “the fragility of the country’s security situation”.
Sanalla went on to call for enhanced security measures with a view to “confronting those who seek to derail Libya’s economic recovery”.
According to the Interior Ministry, initial indicators suggest that the Daesh terrorist group had carried out Monday’s deadly assault.
The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), for its part, condemned Monday’s attack.
“UNSMIL strongly condemns today’s cowardly terrorist attack on the National Oil Corporation (NOC) headquarters,” the mission tweeted.
Libya has remained dogged by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of long-serving leader Muammar Gaddafi after more than four decades in power.
Since then, Libya’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power — one in Tobruk and another in Tripoli — and a host of heavily armed militia groups.