Gaddafi forces attack refinery, kill 15: witnesses

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 12, 2011 6:29 AM
Gaddafi forces attack refinery, kill 15: witnesses

RAS LANUF, Libya (Reuters) - Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi attacked the front gate of an oil refinery near the Libyan coastal town of Ras Lanuf on Monday, killing 15 guards and injuring two, witnesses said.

"About 14 to 15 trucks came in from the direction of (Gaddafi-held) Sirte toward Ras Lanuf," said refinery worker Ramadan Abdel Qader, who was shot in the foot during the assault.

"We heard firing and shelling at around 9 in the morning from Gaddafi loyalists," he told Reuters.

Qader said he and his colleagues had been sleeping when the pro-Gaddafi forces attacked the refinery.

The refinery is controlled by Libya's National Transitional Council, the de facto rulers of the country after a six-month uprising ousted Gaddafi.

A Reuters reporter saw the dead bodies of 15 men with gunshot wounds at a Ras Lanuf hospital where the injured were being treated. Blood covered the floor.

The refinery, called the "Ras Lanuf Factory for Production of Oil and Gas," was not fully operational. Around 60 staff were there when it was attacked, witnesses said.

"The aim of this attack was to scare the guards and the fighters and hinder the production of oil," said Mohamed el-Ferjany, an engineer at the refinery who was not present at the attack.

Libya's interim prime minister said on Sunday that oil production had restarted at an undisclosed location, promising that more of it would come online in the "near future."

(Reporting by Sherine El Madany; Editing by Andrew Heavens)