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US Navy takes control of rogue Libya oil tanker

17 March 2014

US Navy Seals have taken control of a tanker full of oil loaded from the rebel-held Libyan port of Sidra, US officials said on March 17. The 37,000 tonne North Korean-registered tanker Morning Glory escaped the Libyan navy, embarrassing the weak central government and prompting parliament to vote Libyan prime minister Ali Zeidan out of office.

Photo: US Navy
Photo: US Navy

No one was hurt in the boarding operation, which was requested by the Libyan and Cypriot governments and conducted in international waters southeast of Cyprus, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said.

Sidra has been under the control of militias who want autonomy for eastern Libya since July 2013. This was their first attempt to export oil from rebel-held areas. It is not clear where the tanker was headed.

The standoff over control of OPEC member Libya's oil is one facet of wider turmoil that has engulfed the North African country since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi nearly three years ago.

The government and nascent army have struggled to control brigades of former anti-Gaddafi fighters who have refused to disarm and have used their military muscle to make political demands on the state, often by targeting the vital oil sector.

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