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Oilfield attack did not affect Libya's output: Zwai

[TRIPOLI] An attack by gunmen on the Mabrook oilfield on Tuesday had not affected Libya's crude production, the oil minister of a rival government said on Thursday.

Mashallah Zwai said the attackers had killed nine Libyan members of an oil security guard unit and one foreigner during the raid on the field located south of the central city of Sirte. Three Filipinos working for an Italian company were missing.

A Libyan commander in carge of the field, in which France's Total has a stake, had said on Wednesday 12 people had been killed, among them two Filipino and two Ghana nationals.

The Philippines Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that three Filipinos were among seven foreign nationals who had been kidnapped in the Mabrook assault.

Mr Zwai said the identity of the attackers was unclear, adding that they had stolen vehicles and food from the field which had stopped production in December, when fighting between armed factions borke out at the connected Es Sider port to the north.

"We will protect all oilfields and the property of foreign firms," he said, adding that the field was now secured by an oil protection force. It used to pump 40,000 barrels a day.

Libya is producing oil at a rate of between 350,000 and 400,000 barrels per day (bpd), he told reporters. He gave no figure for exports which he put last month at around 200,000 bpd as Libya needs to feed its Zawiya and Tobruk refineries from its production.

Libya is in turmoil with two rival governments controlling different areas, each with their own armies. Rival armed factions have also been fighting for almost two months for control of Libya's biggest oil ports, Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, on the Mediterranean coast.

The recognised government of Abdullah al-Thinni and elected parliament has had to work out of an eastern rump state since a faction called Libya Dawn seized Tripoli in August, setting up its own administration and reinstating the old assembly.