China’s state news agency Xinhua reported this week that gunmen have threatened attacks on Libya's Great Man-Made River pipeline system, as well as gas supply infrastructure in the country. The report has apparently been confirmed by the Libyan Observer, which described the activists as "armed group loyal to former dictator Gaddafi".
Gunmen in southern Libya have threatened the sabotage in video footage which showed an armed group led by Khalifa Ehneish, commander of the country’s self-styled “Popular Front for the Liberation of Libya” standing inside the main control room of the southern water pipeline system, demanding Tripoli's Special Deterrence Force to release his brother, Al-Mabruk Ehneish.
****Subsquent to initial publication of this report, the attention of OOSKAnews has been drawn to this YouTube video clip, posted 17 October, which is labeled "Gunmen threaten to cut off the water from Tripoli"****Al-Mabruk Ehneish is accused of commanding an armed group of 120 members, and leading "a resistance movement called the Popular Front for the Liberation of Libya led by some supporters of the former regime," with the aim of "destabilizing the security of the country and changing the system of governance," according to the Special Deterrent Force.
Xinhua reports that the Special Deterrent Force of Libya’s Interior Ministry said on Sunday that they stopped a plan to take control of the capital Tripoli by armed groups of the supporters of the former regime and mercenaries from Sudan's Justice and Equality Movement and detained Al-Mabruk Ehneish.
The group reportedly granted the Special Deterrence Force 72 hours to release Al-Mabruk Ehneish, or else they will “burn” the water system in southern Libya.
The timeline of events in this breaking story, including the question of when the video footage emerged, is unclear from Xinhua’s report.
The $33 billion USD water system, built by then Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi to tap into a vast underground aquifer in the Sahara desert to sustain his arid country, was hailed as an engineering masterpiece when it was completed in the 1990s after more than a decade of construction. It supplies western and eastern Libya with fresh water from the south.
The water comes from the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer, the largest in the world, covering 1 million square kilometers 488-762 meters under the Sahara that runs across Chad, Egypt, Libya and Sudan.
The water is carried from the desert through a network of gigantic concrete tunnels over 5,000 kilometers long and buried 3-4 meters under the sand and supplies around three-quarters of the municipal water supply of Tripoli.