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Libya Asks U.N. For Assistance In Protecting Oil And Airports

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz asked the United Nations Security Council for help protecting the country's ports, airports and oil installations on Thursday, warning that the country could become a failed state.

He pleaded with the council "to take the case of Libya seriously before it is too late," according to Reuters.

"We are not asking for military intervention to protect the oil but we need teams — experts, trained people — to work with Libyans ... so the Libyans can learn how to protect these strategic sites," he said.

The U.N. has pulled its personnel out of the country over the past two weeks because of growing violence. Rival militia groups have been battling each other in many parts of the country.

Fighting continued for a fifth day at the international airport in Tripoli. Several shells hit the main terminal building for the first time.

Air traffic controllers have stopped working, grounding flights throughout the western part of the country.

In Derna, an Islamist stronghold in the east, gunmen killed Fariha al-Barkawi, a former member of Parliament, Reuters reports.

Speaking from Lebanon via video link, U.N. special envoy Tarek Mitri warned the Security Council that the situation in Libya could further deteriorate.

"As the number of military actors mobilizing and consolidating their presence within the capital continues to grow, there is a mounting sense of a probable imminent and significant escalation in the conflict," Mitri said. "The stakes are high for all sides."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alan Greenblatt has been covering politics and government in Washington and around the country for 20 years. He came to NPR as a digital reporter in 2010, writing about a wide range of topics, including elections, housing economics, natural disasters and same-sex marriage.

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