Czech, Austrian, others missing after Libya oilfield attack

Reuters , Saturday 7 Mar 2015

Around 10 foreigners are missing after an attack on a Libyan oil field and there is a possibility they have been taken hostage, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said on Saturday.

Zaoralek said the workers missing from the Al-Ghani field included a Czech and an Austrian and others from Bangladesh and the Philippines.

"We are examining the possibility that a kidnapping has taken place," Zaoralek told Reuters.

Libya's oil security forces said on Friday they had retaken control of the oilfield after militants attacked the facility, killing seven guards.

The Czech minister said there had been no contact from any group claiming responsibility. He added the ministry was convinced the Czech citizen had not been killed in the attack.

Libya's state oil company meanwhile said at least seven foreigners including an Austrian, a Czech, Filipinos and a national of an African country were missing.

"Foreigners from an Austrian oil services company, operating in the field, are still missing since the time of the attack, we do not know their fate," National Oil Corporation spokesman Mohamed El-Hariri said.

The Czech ministry said a crisis committee including Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and secret services had met to discuss the situation, and a foreign ministry representative would be dispatched to the region as soon as possible.

In Vienna, a foreign ministry spokesman said a 39-year-old Austrian working for an oilfield management company had gone missing after an attack in Libya.

The spokesman declined to give the name of the missing Austrian or his company.

Austria's Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has put together a crisis group of interior ministry and defence ministry experts to deal with the situation. Austrian authorities are in touch with Libyan officials, the spokesman said.

Four years after the civil war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, the North African country is caught up in conflict between two rival governments and their armed forces fighting to secure control over the Muammar Gaddafimember's oil wealth.

The chaos has allowed Islamic State and Ansar al-Sharia militants to gain a foothold in the country. 

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