Libyan rebels, government trade blame on oil blast

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2011 9:29 AM
Libyan rebels, government trade blame on oil blast

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - The Libyan government and rebels fighting it accused each other of blowing up oil facilities in the east of the country on Wednesday.

The rebels said Muammar Gaddafi's forces had hit an oil pipeline leading to Es Sider and dropped bombs on storage tanks in the Ras Lanuf area.

Libyan state television blamed the explosion on "al Qaeda-backed" armed elements who had blown up an oil storage tank as pro-Gaddafi forces advanced into Ras Lanuf.

"He (Gaddafi) is playing a dirty game trying to hit pipelines and make the Americans jittery so they resort to a land intervention which would boost support for Gaddafi among Libyan people," Essam Gheriani, a rebel official in Benghazi, said.

(Reporting by Tom Pfeiffer, Writing by Tom Perry in Cairo; Editing by Janet Lawrence)