Libyan jets bomb Greek oil tanker, killing two crewmen

A Libyan military spokesman said the tanker had been targeted because it had failed to submit to an inspection before entering the port.

The Libyan military has been battling Islamist militias, which have seized control of several cities
The Libyan military has been battling Islamist militias, which have seized control of several cities

A Libyan jets from forces loyal to the internationally recognised government has bombed a Greek-operated oil tanker anchored off the coast, killing two crewmen amid an escalation of conflict between factions vying to rule the country.

Military officials said the vessel had acted suspiciously after a warning not to enter port and said it was suspected of transporting Libyan fighters to Derna, the eastern port city where the ship was at anchor when it was hit on Sunday.

A military spokesman, Colonel Ahmed Mesmari, said the tanker had been targeted because it had failed to submit to an inspection before entering the port.

He said the vessel was supposed to dock at a power plant in Derna but instead "took a different route", entering a "military zone".

"We asked the ship to stop, but instead it turned off all its lights and would not respond so we were obliged to strike it.

"We bombed it twice," he said.

But the state-run oil firm NOC said it had leased the ship to carry fuel for power generation to Derna from Brega, an oil port to the west. The vessel was damaged, but none of the 12,600 tonnes of heavy oil leaked out, the Athens-based operator Aegean Shipping Enterprises Co said.

Greece condemned the "unprovoked and cowardly" attack that killed one Greek and one Romanian crew member and wounded two others and said it had contacted the UN envoy for Libya and the European Union about the incident.

The strike on the Liberian-flagged vessel ARAEVO was part of increasingly chaotic violence in Libya which has two parallel governments: the officially recognised one, which has been pushed out of the capital, and the administration run by a faction known as Libya Dawn that seized Tripoli last summer.

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