At least 19 people have been killed in southern Libya, according to a member of parliament, as forces loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar fought for control of oilfields in the region.

Speaking to Al Jazeera late on Sunday, Mohamed Linu, a member of Libya’s internationally recognised parliament, said Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) force killed civilians, including children, and set fire to more than 30 houses in the southern city of Murzuq, including his own.

The politician said that farms were also destroyed and more than 100 cars were stolen.

Al Jazeera could not independently confirm the report.

The battle for Murzuq, a city 900km south of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, is the first battle for a city fought by the LNA since it started a campaign to take control of oilfields in the south a month ago.

Haftar, whose powerbase is in the city of Benghazi, leads the LNA, which controls the east of the North African nation, along with its major oil ports. 

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The renegade general has become a major player in Libya since his forces seized Benghazi in 2017.

Capturing the city of Murzuk will allow the LNA to secure control of the El Sharara oil field, which produces 315,000 barrels a day. 

Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from Tripoli, said Murzuq was also “strategic” for the LNA because it was a hub for the Tabu tribesmen, who oppose Haftar, and are a “connecting link between Libya, Niger, and Chad”. 

“The area around Muruzuq has a lot of oil and ground water,” he added. 

Haftar’s LNA is allied to a parallel administration based in the east, and is locked in conflict with rival forces over control of the OPEC member country.

Al Jazeera and news agencies


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