Militants clash with guards at Libya terminal

Es-Sider-oil-terminal-Libya

Es Sider oil terminal, Lybia

BENGHAZI — Islamic State fighters clashed with a force guarding Libya’s Es Sider oil export terminal on Monday, witnesses reported, and the militants said they had taken a nearby town.

The ultra-hardline group, which has taken advantage of years of chaos to grab territory in Libya, said in an online statement it had also set off a suicide car bomb during the clashes, causing casualties.

Es Sider and nearby Ras Lanuf oil ports, between Sirte and Benghazi on the Mediterranean coast, have been closed for more than a year amid fighting between rival factions for control of the North African state and its energy reserves.

The group controls the city of Sirte and has attacked several oil fields in the south of Libya. The country has been split between rival governments, one based in Tripoli and the other in the east, creating a security vacuum that militants have exploited.

Es Sider is protected by Ibrahim al-Jathran’s Petrol Facilities Guard, an armed faction that has backed the internationally recognised government in the east, but is also in conflict with other forces supporting that government.

The United Nations has been trying to win support for a deal brokered in Morocco last month to create a national unity government for Libya.

Separately on Monday, a military aircraft that was targeting militant groups in Benghazi was shot down, but the pilot had ejected, senior army commander Fadel al-Hassi said.

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