Gadhafi Forces Attack Oil Refinery Guards in Coastal City

Posted September 12th, 2011 at 11:50 am (UTC-5)
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Fighters with Libya's National Transitional Council say forces loyal to former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi have killed at least 15 guards in an attack outside a key oil refinery in the coastal city of Ras Lanuf.

Provisional authority forces say pro-Gadhafi fighters approached the refinery in a column of vehicles early Monday, attacking the guards posted outside the facility, which is controlled by NTC forces.

A message from Mr. Gadhafi Monday urged Libyans to press ahead for his cause and to not surrender the nation to what he called “foreign influence.” The message attributed to Mr. Gadhafi was read on Syria's Al-Rai TV by its owner, Mishan al-Jabouri.

On Sunday, provisional authority fighters met fierce resistance by Gadhafi loyalists entrenched in parts of the oasis city of Bani Walid.

In neighboring Niger, government officials said Monday that 32 people close to Mr. Gadhafi have fled to the central African nation since September 2. On Sunday, a Nigerien official said an army patrol had intercepted a convoy carrying a Gadhafi son, Saadi, and nine other people after they crossed the desert from Libya.

Niger's justice minister said the vehicles were traveling toward the northern city of Agadez where other Gadhafi loyalists are believed to have fled, including three generals and Mr. Gadhafi's security chief.

The justice minister said he expected the group to be transferred to the capital, Niamey, sometime this week and that Niger would fulfill its international obligations. But he said the government has no plans to arrest Saadi Gadhafi for now, as the International Criminal Court in The Hague has not issued a warrant for him.

Moammar Gadhafi's whereabouts is still unknown. Late Saturday, Guinea Bissau's prime minister said his country would welcome the ousted leader should he seek exile in the West African country. Guinea Bissau had strong ties to Mr. Gadhafi's government when he was in power.

Also Monday, China officially recognized the NTC as the “ruling authority and representative of the Libyan people.” Algerian officials said late Sunday they would recognize the NTC as Libya's rightful authority once a “representative government is in place.”

Interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said the NTC would form a more inclusive interim government within 10 days. NTC officials say they will move their government to the capital, Tripoli, as soon as the security situation will allow.

An explosion near Tripoli's international airport damaged an ammunition depot Monday. A guard told the French news agency the blast was caused by poorly stored ammunition.