Nine foreign oil workers have gone missing after an attack on the al-Ghani oil field in Libya, the Austrian foreign ministry said on March 9. A Libyan army spokesman told the BBC that eight guards had been beheaded in the attack. The army spokesman could not confirm the kidnapping, but said one oil worker had died of a heart attack after witnessing the beheadings.
The foreign oil workers who were seized are from Austria, the Czech Republic, Bangladesh, the Philippines and at least one African country, a spokesman for the Austrian foreign ministry said. The attack on the oilfield, about 700km (440 miles) south-east of Tripoli, took place on March 6.
“We know that they were not injured when they were transported away from the al-Ghani oil field,” he said. The foreigners worked for the oilfield management company Value Added Oilfield Services (VAOS), which is headquartered in Malta.
The company said it did not know which militia group was responsible for the incident and said it would not publish the names of its employees.
“We are working in very close cooperation with the crisis team of the Austrian foreign ministry,” VAOS told Reuters, adding it did not know where its employees had been taken. The company operates mainly in Libya and its clients include oil giants BP, Repsol and Austria’s OMV.
Foreigners have increasingly become targets in Libya’s turmoil, where two rival governments are battling for control and Islamist extremists have grown in the chaos that followed Muammar Gaddafi’s removal from power four years ago.