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US navy hands over seized oil tanker to Libya

© AFP file picture

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-03-22

US forces handed over a captured oil tanker to Libya on Saturday, after the vessel had loaded crude worth millions of dollars at a rebel-held port, officials said.

Libyan navy spokesman Ayoub Qassem said that the North-Korea flagged tanker, Morning Glory, is now heading to the port at Zawiya refinery, 40 kilometers west of the Libyan capital Tripoli.

Qassem added that three Libyans and 21 crew members have been detained.

US Navy SEALs intercepted and seized the ship off the Mediterranean island of Cyprus last week, stopping an attempt by Libyan militia to sell crude in defiance of Tripoli.

The tanker saga illustrated the extreme weakness of Libya’s government, vying with militias for dominance since the 2011 ouster and death of longtime strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

The militia commander controlling the terminal where the tanker took on its $30 million load, Ibrahim Jedran, had warned the US against handing over the tanker and the three rebels that were onboard, reportedly including one of his brothers.

Last summer, the militia took over Libya’s oil facilities in the east, resulting in the country’s exports of its biggest revenue earner slowing to a trickle.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-03-22

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