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Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Foreigners Feared Kidnapped After Oil Field Attack In Libya

al ghani oil field

(Photo : Reuters) Rebels under Libyan rebel leader Ibrahim Jathran are seen guarding the entrance of the al-Ghani oil field, March 18, 2014.

Nearly a dozen foreign nationals are feared to have been held hostage following an oil field attack in Libya.

Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek on Saturday said a Czech, an Austrian and some from Bangladesh and the Philippines went missing after gunmen stormed the Al-Ghani field on Friday.  Authorities have yet to determine the group behind the attack.

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"We are examining the possibility that a kidnapping has taken place," Zaoralek said.

Libyan security officials said the attack on the oil facility left 11 guards dead, adding that they have now regained control over the oil field.

Foreigners have become targets by militias in Libya in recent years, as rival governments fight for control over the country. Islamist groups have also gained strength since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and killed in 2011.

"Foreigners from an Austrian oil services company, operating in the field, are still missing since the attack. We do not know their fate," National Oil Corporation spokesman Mohamed El-Hariri said.

Czech officials believe its missing citizen was not killed during the attack. 

The Czech and the Austrian governments have put up a crisis committee that will handle the situation, while a Czech official will fly to Libya soon.

The Islamic State has been blamed for most of the high-profile attacks against foreigners in Libya. The latest include the bombing on a Tripoli hotel that killed eight people in January and recently, the beheading of Egyptian Christians.

Al-Ghani is not the first oil field that was attacked by militants. Eleven Libyan oil fields near al-Ghani were forced to close down this month due to attacks. Workers were pulled out and production was halted.

On Saturday, the United Nations said the talks to form a unity government and lasting ceasefire in Libya have progressed in Morocco. But as the two parties settle differences on the negotiating table, rival governments continue fighting on the ground.

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