Libyan government warplanes briefly set fire to oil tanker anchored in rival port of Sirte

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War planes belonging to the internationally recognized Libyan government bombed an oil tanker in a port controlled by the North African nation’s rival Islamist leaders, the regional coastguard commander said.

The Anwaar Afriqya, an oil tanker carrying 30,000 tonnes of diesel from Motor Oil Hellas’s refinery in Greece, was attacked while anchored off Sirte in central Libya, Rida Issa said by phone. , the head of the coast guard. The airstrike caused a fire on the tanker which was then extinguished, said the ship’s second in command, Fakhri Mohammed.

“We have managed to avert an environmental catastrophe,” Mohammed said by telephone on Monday.

Libya, which holds Africa’s largest oil reserves, has been divided since a coalition of Islamist militias captured Tripoli last year and forced the elected government to flee the country’s western capital and withdraw. settle in the eastern region. Each of the two governments supports a rival leadership of the state-owned National Oil Corp., or NOC.

The conflict in Libya has damaged or shut down oil fields, pipelines and ports, reducing the country’s crude production to around 400,000 barrels a day, said Mohamed Elharari, spokesperson for the leadership of the Libya on May 18. NOC based in Tripoli. Libya pumped nearly 1.6 million barrels ahead of the 2011 rebellion that ended Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year reign.

The attack on Anwaar Afriqya killed one person and injured another, Issa said on Sunday. The ship’s cargo was intended to supply the Sirte power plant, he said.

The Tripoli-based NOC leadership condemned the attack, saying the tanker had permission to transport the fuel to the city. “This incident will have serious consequences for the national economy and the livelihoods of all the Libyan people,” the Islamist-backed leadership said on its website. “It will be more difficult to find tankers ready to operate in Libyan waters. “

The ship was struck by planes belonging to General Khalifa Haftar, head of the armed forces of the internationally recognized administration, according to Issa. “They apparently believed the tanker was carrying fighters” loyal to the rival government in Tripoli, he said.

The Libyan-flagged vessel is registered in the name of its owner, Libyan Product Carrier Ltd., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The double-hulled ship reached Sirte on May 22 after leaving Agio Theodhoroi in Greece, data shows.

The Islamist-backed government in Tripoli controls part of Sirte, including the outskirts where the power plant is located. The rest of the city was taken over by local militia loyal to the Islamic State, the group that declared a caliphate over parts of Syria and Iraq.

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