TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — In an assault on an oil field in central Libya earlier this week, armed gunmen killed nine guards and one employee from Niger before abducting seven foreigners, officials said Thursday.
According to Mashallah al-Zewi, a minister in the militia-backed government in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, the attackers arrived in about 30 pickup trucks at the al-Mabrouk field, located 170 kilometers (105 miles) south of the coastal city of Sirte.
They opened fire on the guards, killing nine of them, al-Zewi added.
In the Philippines, authorities said on Wednesday that three Filipino workers were among seven foreigners abducted in the same attack. The Department of Foreign Affairs said Manila and the Philippine Embassy in Libya were monitoring the situation and coordinating closely with the Italian company the Filipinos work for, Sogepi S.r.l., to ensure their well-being and safe return.
The nationalities of the other abducted foreigners were not immediately known.
Al-Zewi said the attackers also lined up more than 50 employees and lectured them about Islam before letting them go. They looted the whole facility, towing away food items, equipment, and vehicles.
The field is jointly owned with Total, but the French energy company said its employees left the facility in 2013 because of increasing security risks.
The French government said none of its nationals was caught up in the attack.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack on the oil field, which came less than two weeks after an assault by militants loyal to the Islamic State group on a luxurious hotel in Tripoli that killed 10 people, including an American, a French citizen and three people from Asia.
The violence highlights the growing threat from militant groups that operate with near impunity in Libya, a country torn between rival governments, tribes and militias since the 2011 toppling and killing of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
The country's post-Gadhafi transition has collapsed, with two rival governments and parliaments — each backed by different militias — ruling in the country's eastern and western regions.
The chaos in Libya has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, embassies have closed and diplomats have mostly left the country along with hundreds of thousands of foreign laborers.
Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila contributed to this report.
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