Militants Target Libya's Great Man-made River System

TRIPOLI, Libya

Suspected Daesh militants killed two workers and kidnapped two others at the Tazirbu water plant in south-eastern Libya July 7, the second attack targeting the country’s water facilities in two days.

“An armed attack was carried out by terrorist groups on the Tazirbu site causing havoc, looting, killing and terrorizing families, children and the workers who ensure the supply of water to cities,” said a statement from the Great Man-made River Project.

An engineer and a guard were shot dead and two guards were kidnapped in the raid.

On July 6, members of an unidentified armed group kidnapped, then released three Filipinos and one Korean employed as technicians at the Al-Hassouna plant, part of the same water network connecting desert wells to towns and cities in northern Libya.

The $33 billion USD Man-made River system, built by then Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi to tap into a vast underground aquifer in the Sahara desert to sustain the 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 Desert. 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.

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