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Eight rebels killed in attack on Libyan oil pumping station

By Reza Sayah, CNN
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The rebels were guarding the station in an opposition-held region near Egyptian border
  • Only one guard of the nine survived the attack, a medical official says
  • An opposition spokesman confirms the ambush by Gadhafi loyalists

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Loyalists to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi killed eight rebel fighters in a rare attack earlier this week in an opposition-held region near the Egyptian border, a medical official and an opposition spokesman told CNN Saturday.

The regime loyalists, riding in a convoy of nine vehicles, attacked an oil pumping station in the Libyan desert on Thursday, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) southwest of Tobruk, said Dr. Rida Benfayed, a physician who claimed he treated a rebel fighter injured in the attack.

Tobruk is a rebel stronghold one hour west of the Egyptian border and is the site of a key oil exporting facility where the rebels shipped out their first consignment of oil earlier this month.

Benfayed said the gunmen opened fire on a team of nine rebel military guards manning the pumping station. The regime loyalists set a tire on fire to burn the remains of a senior rebel guard, the doctor said.

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The only guard who survived was shot twice in the leg but managed to escape and drive himself to Tobruk where he's in stable condition at a hospital.

Opposition spokesman Ahmed Bani confirmed the attack, which showed the regime's capability to strike deep into rebel territory with ambush-style attacks.

"He (Gadhafi) doesn't want us to sell the oil," Bani said. "This is a lesson for us. We will take measures to increase security along the pipelines."

Bani said the pumping station sustained damage in the attack, though the extent wasn't immediately clear.

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