By Sami Zaptia.
London, 18 February 2020:
Libya’s state National Oil Corporation (NOC) confirmed that fuel vessels were urgently evacuated from Tripoli Port today and all offloading operations were cancelled after projectiles struck meters away from a highly explosive liquified petroleum gas (LPG) tanker discharging in the port.
The attack was attributed by Tripoli to the Khalifa Hafter forces. The attack was ostensibly aimed at a Turkish ship offloading arms. There is no confirmation of a ship offloading arms.
The attack comes a day after Libyans celebrated the ninth anniversary of the 17 February 2011 revolution that overthrew the Qaddafi regime. It also came a day after Mitiga airport was the subject of an attack yesterday leading to its closure and about the same time as UNSMIL head Ghassan Salame was holding a press conference in Geneva about the relative success of Libya truce/ceasefire talks.
The NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said: “Today’s attack on Tripoli port could have led to a humanitarian and environmental disaster and it will have a significant impact on a crowded region like Tripoli. The city does not have operational fuel storage facilities as the capital’s main storage warehouse was evacuated as a result of the fighting on Airport Road area, where the warehouse is located. The consequences will be immediate; hospitals, schools, power stations and other vital services will be disrupted. We condemn this behaviour in the strongest possible terms and ask the international community to intervene rapidly to prevent a serious escalation in the conflict and to allow NOC to manage fuel supplies.”
Following the attack, the NOC said that the LPG tanker and a gasoline tanker that were in Tripoli immediately left the port for safe waters and that it was exploring alternative ways to supply Tripoli and its surroundings with fuel.
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