By Hadi Fornaji.
Tripoli, 21 June 2013:
The Swiss-based power company ABB is monitoring the situation in Libya after two employees, a German . . .[restrict]engineer and a Libyan driver, were shot and wounded by gunmen yesterday on the road between Ajdabiya and Zueitina.
The German was hit in the chest and foot and the Libyan suffered a head wound but managed to drive back to Ajdabiya. The two men were there, then were transferred to Benghazi before being flown to a hospital abroad. Both are reported by ABB to be recovering.
Three other engineers travelling with them, two Germans and a Czech, were unharmed.
The attack “appears to have been an armed robbery that went wrong”, said an official, with the thieves interested in the vehicle.
“I don’t think there is any political connection,” said a European diplomat. There had been several similar previous attacks, he pointed out.
ABB has been reported as saying that it will not pull out of Libya because of the attack. It is involved in a number of projects in the country including a control system for the power station at Zueitina, to which the engineers were heading.
The incident hightlights the lack of general security in the country. In particular, there have been numerous incidents of carjacking, with attackers interested in larger 4×4 vehicles. Those that are armour-plated with bullet-proof glass are said to be particularly sought after. In the overwhelming bulk of cases, however, it is Libyan organisations that have been losing them. Last week, Sirte Oil Company officials in Misrata complained to Oil Minister about the number of 4x4s had been stolen from them.
Such attacks are widely believed to carried out by those who have inside information about where and when vehicles are travelling.
ABB was previously targeted in Libya by the Qaddafi regime which arrested and held its country manager, Max Göldi, for over a year, along with another Swiss businessman, in reprisal for the arrest in Switzerland of Hannibal Qaddafi and his wife, accused of beating two of their staff in a hotel.
They were eventually released in 2010 after Switzerland was forced to apologise. [/restrict]