4 Filipinos kidnapped in Libya oilfield attack – DFA

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Four Filipino citizens were among the foreigners abducted, allegedly by jihadists linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) group, in an attack on a Libyan oilfield last week, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday, March 9.

In a press conference, DFA spokesperson Charles Jose confirmed that the 4 Filipinos were among the foreigners abducted during the March 6 attack on the Al-Ghani oilfield in southern Libya, where at least 8 guards were killed.

Citizens of Austria, Czech Republic, Ghana, and Bangladesh were also among those missing after the attack, reportedly by jihadists linked to ISIS. A total of 9 foreigners were kidnapped.

Jose said the DFA is updating the families of the abducted Filipinos on their situation.

The attack "underscore[s] the escalating threat to the safety and security of Filipino oil workers in Libyan oil fields which have been targeted by armed groups in recent weeks," Jose told a news conference, adding that no demands had been issued.

Earlier reports cited only an Austrian and a Filipino missing after the attack.

The Filipinos are employees of VAOS Oil Services, Jose said, adding that the embassy in Tripoli is already coordinating with VAOS and Libyan authorities in locating the abducted foreigners.

The DFA also said 52 other Filipinos working for the company have been evacuated from Al-Ghani prior to the attack, and 36 of them said they would like to be repatriated back to the Philippines soon.

This is the latest case of abductions of Filipinos in Libya. On February 3, 3 Filipinos were reportedly among 7 foreigners abducted at the Al-Mabruk oil field after another attack.

A total of 7 Filipinos have now been abducted in the North African state this year and the fate of another three seized in the Al-Mabruk remains unknown. 

Oil is Libya's main natural resource, with a pre-revolution output of about 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd), accounting for more than 95% of exports and 75% of budget revenues.

But production fell to around 350,000 bpd in December when the Fajr Libya coalition of militias, including Islamist groups, attacked oil terminals in the east.

Libya has been awash with weapons since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed Moammar Gaddafi, and opposing militias have since been battling to control its cities and oil wealth.

There are two rival governments and parliaments – those recognized by the international community sitting in the far east and the others in the capital backed by Fajr Libya. – with reports from Agence France-Presse and Reuters/Rappler.com