Oil Tankers Seized by Libyan Coastguard Off Zuwara
The battle of wills between various local militias and coastguard units involved in smuggling and counter-smuggling activities around Zuwara continued last week after Libya’s coastguard seized two foreign flagged tankers and detained their crews for allegedly smuggling oil following an hours-long gun battle on Thursday night about 2km off Sidi Said near Zuwara. On 30 April, Al-Jazeera quoted General Ayoub Qassem as saying, “The Libyan coastguard boarded the two tankers, one flying the Ukrainian flag, the Ruta, and the other, the Stark, flying the Congolese flag. The coastguards had monitored them from afar and waited until Friday morning to act,”.
Qassem said the oil traffickers were heavily armed and were supported by small boats. They put up fierce resistance, but the tankers were eventually seized by Libyan authorities “after more than three hours of exchange of fire”. On several occasions, boats with armed men returned and opened fire with Kalashnikovs and heavy machineguns, he said.
After they were overpowered, the two tankers and their crews were taken back to the capital, Tripoli, where they will face prosecution. Among them were 14 Ukrainians from the Ruta and four Turks and two Georgians who were on the Stark, said Qassem. Another three crew members from the Stark were in Zuwara, he said, without giving their nationalities. At the time of the seizure, the Ruta had about 3,330 tonnes of oil in its tanks, while the Stark – which can carry 1,236 tonnes – was about to be loaded when the coastguard arrived.
Click here to read the full article.