Islamist militants kill 19 soldiers in east Libya

Members of the Libyan army stand on a tank as heavy black smoke rises from the Benghazi's port in the background on Dec. 23, 2014. (AFP)

At least 19 Libyan soldiers were killed in clashes with Islamist militia on Thursday east of the country, where an oil tank also caught fire in separate fighting, officials said.

A military source said the soldiers were killed in attacks launched by the Fajr Libya movement in Sirte, while the oil tank at the port of al-Sidra was hit by rocket fire in other clashes.

The al-Sidra and its adjacent Ras Lanuf terminal have been closed since a force allied to a rival government in Tripoli moved east trying to take them.

“A tank was hit but the damage is limited,” said an official from a security service allied to the internationally-recognized government, now operating from eastern Libya. He said there were heavy clashes in the Ben Jawad area west of Es Sider where he said some of the rival forces were based.

An oil ministry official said the tank was still on fire. Smoke could be seen on pictures posted on social media websites and described as showing the port. No ore information was immediately available.

The fighting had reduced Libya's crude output to 352,000 barrels a day, a spokesman for state-owned National Oil Corp (NOC) said. Only the Brega, Sarir, Messla and offshore operations were still producing, he said.

Libya has had two governments and parliaments since a group called Libya Dawn seized the capital Tripoli in August by expelling a rival faction, installing its own prime minister and forcing the internationally-recognized cabinet to operate out of the east with the elected House of Representatives.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:44 - GMT 06:44
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