Voice of America (Washington, DC)

17 March 2014

Libya: U.S. Navy Seals Seize Renegade Oil Tanker

Photo: Al Jazeera
Libya has threatened to attack a North Korean ship over seized oil.

The Pentagon announced that U.S. Navy SEALs have seized an oil tanker carrying crude illicitly obtained from a rebel-held port in Libya.

The Defense Department said Monday no one was hurt in the boarding of the "stateless vessel seized earlier this month by three armed Libyans."

The statement said the action was requested by the Libyan and Cypriot governments and approved by President Barack Obama.

It was conducted just after 10:00 p.m. local time on Sunday in international waters southeast of Cyprus.

It said U.S. sailors are now in control of the ship, called Morning Glory. They will soon return the tanker and its cargo back to a port in Libya.

The Morning Glory loaded the oil earlier this month in the Libyan port of As-Sadra, which is controlled by a rebel militia group.

The tanker had been a North Korean-flagged ship, but Pyongyang has denied responsibility, saying the vessel is linked to an Egyptian company. North Korea then revoked the registration of the ship.

The Morning Glory escaped Libya's attempt to seize it, prompting a fierce backlash against Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, who fled the country.

The Libyan government said it has ordered special forces to deploy within two weeks to bring all rebel-held ports back under government control.

The standoff has cut Libya's oil exports by more than 80 percent.

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