LFJL strongly condemns the attack against the headquarters of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) in Tripoli which resulted in the death of at least two NOC staff members and which injured 10 people.
On 10 September 2018, an armed group attacked the NOC building where they took a number of hostages, using small weapons and grenades. The attack, marked by intense shooting, caused the death of at least two NOC staff and injured 10 people, while two of the attackers were reportedly killed in suicide explosions. The attack took place less than a week after the adoption of a fragile ceasefire agreement, which sought to end the hostilities between rival armed groups in Tripoli that resulted in over 100 injuries and close to 50 deaths.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack on the NOC, however, it is suggested that the assailants were affiliated with the Islamic State. The Islamic State has previously claimed responsibility for attacks on Libyan institutions, including the 2 May 2018 suicide attack on the High National Election Commission which killed 12 people.
LFJL has repeatedly stressed that the targeting of civilians and civilian objects is a flagrant violation of the fundamental principles of international humanitarian and human rights law. LFJL urges the Libyan state to comply with its international obligations and to provide security and protection to the civilian population and institutions. LFJL also calls on the Libyan state to conduct investigations and hold to account all those involved in the criminal attack.
LFJL is also concerned by the response by some Libyan State officials, who have referred to the assailants’ skin colour and attempted to infer their nationality on this basis. Highlighting the skin colour and nationality of the perpetrators is discriminatory and particularly dangerous as it places migrants and minorities, who face ongoing human rights violations in Libya including racial discrimination, at further risk from repercussions. We note reports which have documented the use of racist and derogatory language when carrying out human rights abuses in Libya, seemingly in an effort by perpetrators to justify crimes, including torture, extrajudicial executions, and slavery. The Libyan State must take steps to protect vulnerable groups from possible retaliation to avoid further escalation.
LFJL’s Director, Elham Saudi, stated: “This attack represents yet another attempt by armed groups to disrupt the efforts to restore stability in Libya by targeting the institution that is central to Libya’s economy. The Libyan authorities must hold the perpetrators to account in order to end the impunity that reigns in Libya and to prevent further tensions and divisions within the country”.
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