Key oil port, Al-Sidra under ISIS fire again
Flames and black smoke towered far into the sky after ISIS fighters attacked an oil tanker in the port of Es Sider.
The blaze towered high above the firefighters who tried desperately to extinguish it, shortly after they were forced to battle two other oil fires at the Ras Lanuf terminal.
After days of attacks against oil tankers, the extremists are said to have attacked a major power plant in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi today.
Fire fighters eventually put out the fire Es Sider, which broke out on Monday, and two others at oil storage tanks at Ras Lanuf terminal.
One of the power plant’s employees said militants began shelling it late on Friday evening and continued into the morning, shutting down one of the plant’s units and starting a fire that sent black smoke billowing into the sky.
Military Commander Fadhal al-Hassi said ISIS was to blame. This could not be independently confirmed, though other Islamist groups operating in Benghazi do not tend to target civilian infrastructure.
Libya has slipped into turmoil following the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with rival militias, factions and governments competing for power and for the country’s oil wealth.
On Thursday, dozens of police recruits were killed in a truck bombing claimed by Islamic State in the western town of Zliten.
It followed ISIS attacks on major oil terminals at Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, triggering several days of clashes and causing fires at seven oil storage tanks.
The Petroleum Facilities Guard said the last of those fires were put out on Friday. Benghazi has seen months of heavy fighting between Islamist militants and military forces allied to the country’s recognised, eastern-based government.
The power plant, which supplies much of eastern Libya, currently has an output of 910 MW. That is some 170 MW short of demand, meaning power is rationed to residential parts of Benghazi for several hours a day.
It was unclear how output might be affected by the shelling on Friday and Saturday.