“Islamic State” in Libya have claimed responsibility for a Monday car-bomb that struck the offices of energy group Eni in Tripoli, a day after the Italian company announced the discovery of a ‘supergiant’ gas field off the shores of Egypt.
The IS statement on Tuesday reads: “One of [IS in Tripoli’s] security units targeted the headquarters of the oil and gas company Mellitah by car bomb in the El-Zahra district in the middle of Tripoli city. We are asking God that the targets are destroyed.”
Mellitah Oil and Gas is a joint venture in which the government-owned Libyan National Oil Corporation and Eni are equal partners.
Despite images showing a significant blast shared online, a spokesperson for Eni said via the Italian company’s Twitter profile on Tuesday: “Nobody [was] wounded and no significant damage to the office buildings”. Reuters reported severe damages to the building, but no injuries in the explosion. However, AFP, quoting a security official in Tripoli, said that “one person was injured in the blast”.
A request for further comment from Eni to Daily News Egypt was left unanswered at the time of publication.
Prior to the apparent official claim, supporters of the militant group in Libya shared an unofficial claim, reading “soldiers of the caliphate in the province of Tripoli and the capital of Libya targeted a den of apostates in the area of Al-Zahra”.
The Mellitah/Eni offices are understood to be located on the same street as several Arab and foreign embassies, including the Saudi Arabian and Dutch embassies, and a bank.
It is not clear whether the operation was in response to Eni’s announcement of a “supergiant” gas field in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Egypt, on Sunday.
Libya has been suffering from internal turmoil amidst a vacuum of government since the NATO-led ouster of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. It’s internationally recognised government in Tobruk is struggling against numerous militant groups.
In February, “Islamic State” in Libya published a video appearing to show the beheading of 21Chrisitans. Following the confirmation that 20 of the individuals were Egyptian Coptic Christians, Egypt launched airstrikes in the neighbouring country against alleged IS militant targets. Egypt, which has been facing its own internal fight against an “Islamic State” affiliate in Sinai, has been strengthening its border security in order to obstruct the passage of militants and weapons from Libya.
According to the Eni’s statement on the new energy supply, the natural gas field, covering 100 sqkm, is considered to “be the largest gas discovery ever made in Egypt and in the Mediterranean Sea” and may hold up to 30tncubic feet of lean gas.
Eni’s CEO, Claudio Descalzi, recently travelled to Cairo to meet with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and various ministers about the discovery. Eni has announced it will invest $7bn in developing the field.
“This exploration success will give a major contribution in satisfying Egypt’s natural gas demand for decades,” the statement added.