US Navy Seals boarded and took control of a North Korea-flagged tanker that had loaded crude oil at a port held by rebels in eastern Libya, the Pentagon said on Monday.
No one was hurt in the operation, which was approved by US President Barack Obama at the request of both the Libyan and Cypriot governments and conducted in international waters southeast of Cyprus, said Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.
"The Morning Glory is carrying a cargo of oil owned by the Libyan government National Oil Company. The ship and its cargo were illicitly obtained from the Libyan port of As-Sidra," his statement said, adding that the tanker will be "underway soon to a port in Libya" with a team of US sailors aboard.
The Morning Glory reportedly loaded at least 234,000 barrels of crude. It departed from the eastern Libyan port of Al-Sidra, which is controlled by rebels seeking autonomy from the authorities in Tripoli.
Pyongyang on Wednesday however denied any responsibility for the tanker.
The ship was operated by an Egypt-based company that was allowed to temporarily use the North Korean flag under a contract with Pyongyang, North Korean state news agency KCNA said on Wednesday.
Pyongyang had "cancelled and deleted" the ship's North Korean registry, as it violated its law "on the registry of ships and the contract that prohibited it from transporting contraband cargo".
"Therefore, the ship has nothing to do" with North Korea, which "has no responsibility whatsoever as regards the ship," KCNA said.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, Reuters)
Date created : 2014-03-17