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Libya detains crew of renegade oil tanker

March 23, 2014
Associated Press

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Libyan authorities boarded a renegade oil tanker and detained three militiamen and the crew after the vessel anchored off the country's coast Sunday, the state news agency and a Libyan navy spokesman said.

U.S. Navy SEALs seized the ship, Morning Glory, last week in the eastern Mediterranean at the behest of the Libyan government. That operation brought an end to an attempt by a militia from eastern Libya to sell the crude in defiance of the central government in Tripoli.

The U.S. Navy handed over control of the tanker to Libyan forces Saturday while in international waters.

Libya's state news agency said Sunday the tanker was now sailing to the port of Zawiya, west of the Libyan capital, where it will offload its cargo.

Libyan navy spokesman Ayoub Qassem told The Associated Press the tanker was boarded by members of the navy as it anchored off Tripoli's Mediterranean coast. The sailors then arrested the 21-man crew and the three militiamen and took them to shore where they would be questioned by police.

The tanker's return could help bolster the authority of the weak central government in the face of the country's powerful militias. It is also a manifestation of the West's support for the government in its struggle to rein in the militias as well as its concern over the fate of the energy-rich North African nation.



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