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Libyan rebels ‘launch oilfield squad’

Libyan rebels battling to topple the regime of national leader Muammar Gaddafi have set up a force dedicated to protecting oilfields and installations under their control, reports claim.

The reports come after rebels were also accused of striking an oil pipeline feeding the capital Tripoli in an effort to further squeeze the embattled Gaddafi regime.

A force is now in place to keep watch of oilfields and pipelines in case Gaddafi-backed militia attempt to disrupt or destroy them, Reuters reported on Monday.

"There are forces prepared just to protect the oilfields," Ahmed Bani, defence spokesman for the rebels' National Transitional Council, told the news wire.  "We' ve supplied them with weapons, vehicles and night-vision equipment.”
Bani said the force is "big enough to protect the whole oil fields under our control”.

The Financial Times reported at the weekend that the NTC was in the process of setting up the force and had approached Turkey for $6 million to help pay for equipment including night-vision goggles.

The newspaper also reported that the rebels had secured the support of desert tribes such as African Tebu to protect the vast Sarir oilfield in the south of the country.

"We fear that when the Gaddafi troops pull back they will destroy everything," rebel spokesman, Mohammad Zawawi, also told Reuters. The UK’s Telegraph newspaper reported on Monday that rebels had sabotaged an oil pipeline feeding Tripoli in an effort to disrupt energy supply.

Source: Associated Press



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