Libyan warplane bombs Greek-operated oil tanker at port, two dead

Libyan warplane bombs Greek-operated oil tanker at port, two dead
# 05 January 2015 19:47 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. A Libyan warplane from forces loyal to the internationally recognized government bombed a Greek-operated oil tanker anchored offshore, killing two crewmen in an escalation of a battle between the country's rival factions, APA reports quoting Reuters.

The air strike on Sunday damaged the Liberian-flagged ARAEVO that was carrying 12,600 tons of crude oil when it was off the eastern port of Derna, the Greek coastguard and Libyan officials said.

Military officials allied with Libya's internationally recognized government said the vessel had been warned not to enter port and claimed it had been transporting Islamist militants to the city of Derna.

Greece condemned what it called an "unprovoked and cowardly" attack and demanded an investigation and punishment for those responsible.

Three years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is mired in a power struggle between two rival factions of former rebels who have established competing governments, both claiming legitimacy and control of vast oil resources.

Both sides have appointed rival officials to run the NOC state oil company and the oil ministry, leading to confusion over who controls which assets.

Athens-based Aegean Shipping Enterprises Co, which operates the vessel, said no oil had spilled as a result of the air strike. The vessel, which it said had been chartered by NOC, was loaded at Brega port for transport to Derna.

Ahmed Bu Zayad Al-Mismari, a spokesman for the government's General Chief of Staff, confirmed the vessel was attacked by one of it warplanes.

"The ports of Derna and Benghazi were closed, and we have cautioned all oil tankers not to get close to these ports."

The Greek vessel had not let officials know its destination and did not seek permission, he said. But an industry source said it was delivering gasoil to power generators that supply the cities of Derna, Khoms, Benghazi and Misrata.

The company said two members were killed and two wounded.

"There is no oil leakage, the ship's integrity was not compromised. Damage is being assessed," said safety manager Elias Syrros.