By Nihal Zaroug.
Tripoli, 25 June 2013:
An armed clash at the headquarters of the Petroleum Facilities Guards (PFG) in Tripoli’s Salahaddin district . . .[restrict]today has resulted in the injury of six people, three of them bystanders. One of bystanders needed surgery and remains in critical condition.
According to the official Facebook of the PFGs, at precisely 12:15, a heavily armed Zintani unit tasked with guarding the Sharara Oil field in the south of Libya, attacked the headquarters causing damage to the building and wounding three of its guards, one of whom was seriously wounded. The unit used neighbouring buildings to mount its “indiscriminate” assault, resulting in significant damage in the area.
Despite efforts by the authorities to negotiate with the attackers and ease the tension, a clash ensued and was only brought to an end by the arrival of Special Forces, who pursued the assailants when they fled the scene.
The PFG falls under the remit of the Ministry of Defense and back up was sent to assist the guards.
An PFG employee told the Libya Herald that an investigation would take place and action against the attackers would be taken. This was confirmed by an statement posted on the PFG’s English Facebook page, which read: “The PFG will not tolerate any such criminal acts and intends to take strict disciplinary actions against any whom wish to disturb law, order, security and endanger the lives of civilians.”
According the the Solidarity news agency, it was informed by anonymous sources that the violence was in protest over unpaid salaries for securing oil facilities in the south. Other reports claim the attack was over drilling equipment removed from the Sharara oil field.
Calm was not restored once the assailants fled. A resident of the area told the Libya Herald that a second, unrelated clash occurred at around 15:00 in which armed residents of the Hay Al-Zohoor area in Salahaddin district attacked the offices of the Mohamed Al-Madani Brigade, housed in the same street as the PFG headquarters. The residents were protesting against the presence of the brigade but the attack only resulted in further chaos, the complete closure of the Salahaddin area and increased tension.