TRIPOLI, Jan 24, 2013 (AFP) -
TRIPOLI, Jan 24, 2013 (AFP) –
Libya will strengthen security around its oil facilities, officials said on Thursday, in the wake of a deadly attack on a gas site in neighbouring Algeria.
Forces “guarding oil plants were ordered to protect sites on the borders with Tunisia, Algeria and Niger,” news agency LANA quoted security official Colonel Ahmed Khalifa al-Khabashi as saying.
A statement from the country’s security forces announced an “increase in patrols at oil sites and the creation of a team to coordinate these operations.”
Overflights of surveillance aircraft will accompany the measures on the ground, another official said.
An Islamist kidnapping operation against workers at a gas site in Algeria led to the deaths of nearly 40 hostages, mostly foreigners. The kidnappers demanded an end to a French military intervention in Mali.
Ahmed Misrati, a worker at Libya’s Mabruk oil field, owned by French company Total, told AFP that security measures had already been strengthened.
Oil installations have also become a focal point of protests in Libya in the wake of July polls that ushered in the country’s first elected authorities.
The demonstrations have prevented workers from entering, and have caused astronomical financial losses in the country’s oil sector.
Protesters have included former rebels who fought in the 2011 revolution that toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi, and have demanded jobs and health benefits.
A number of foreign companies hold oil contracts in Libya, including Total, the United States’ Occidental, Eni of Italy and Algeria’s Sonatrach.