Libya threatens to bomb North Korean tanker at rebel-held port

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Saturday, March 8, 2014

Updated 3:45 pm: Libya threatened Saturday to bomb a North Korean-flagged tanker, which is suspected of trying to load an illegal cargo at the Es-Sider oil terminal, if the vessel does not leave port.

Militants blockading the terminal in eastern Libya had been trying to load crude aboard the ship, a lawmaker said earlier, in the latest challenge to the government control of exports.

Deputy Defense Minister Khaled al-Sherif told AFP a "crisis committee" made up of government officials and lawmakers had issued an ultimatum for the ship to leave Libyan territorial waters.

"If the ship doesn't comply, it will be bombed by the air force or intercepted at sea by the navy," Sherif said.

An MP and committee member said the deadline 2:00 pm (1200 GMT) deadline had expired without any action being taken.

Officials at state-run National Oil Corp (NOC) confirmed earlier on Saturday that the tanker was docked at the Es-Sider port, which is under the control of a group demanding autonomy and a greater share of Libya's oil wealth.

"We started exporting oil. This is our first shipment," a spokesman for the group, which has seized Es-Sider and two other ports, said.

The tanker Morning Glory, which had been circling off the Libyan coast for days, was preparing to load crude at the port, said an oil official, asking not to be identified. Oil workers at the port confirmed the docking.

"We have informed the government and the defense ministry so they can take action," the official said, adding that the tanker's crew "are trying to buy oil illegally."

Libya's government has tried to end a wave of protests at oil ports and fields across the North African country that have slashed oil output, the country's lifeline, to a trickle.

(AFP, Reuters)


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