URGENT: Turkish ship allegedly carrying arms shelled, officer killed near Libya
An officer of a Turkish cargo ship has been killed in a shelling attack on the ship near the Libyan port city of Tobruk, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry says.
Several members of the crew sustained injuries in the attack, which happened on Monday when the MV Tuna 1, sailing under the flag of Cook Islands, tried to approach the shore, the ministry added.
Shells were fired from the shore at the vessel, and when it was leaving the area, it was attacked twice from the air, the ministry added.
The ministry condemned the deadly attack, saying that the ship was transporting a cargo to the Libyan port from Spain and came under attack when it was in international waters.
“We condemn strongly this contemptible attack which targeted a civilian ship in international waters and curse those who carried it out,” it said.
Mohamed Hejazi, a Libyan military spokesman, said the ship was attacked after ignoring a warning not to approach the city of Derna, some 145 km west of Tobruk.
“A ship was shelled about 10 miles from Derna coast. We have warned before about approaching Derna port,” Hejazi said, confirming that death of the officer.
Reports also said that the Turkish vessel caught fire and was towed in Tobruk terminal.
Libya plunged into chaos following the 2011 uprising against the dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi, whose ouster gave rise to a patchwork of heavily-armed militia groups and deep political divisions.
Libya Dawn militants sit on a pick-up truck mounted with a machine gun in the coastal city of Sirte, March 15, 2015. © AFP
Two rival groups are seeking control over the country, with one governing the capital, Tripoli, and the other, which is the internationally-recognized government, controlling the eastern cities of Bayda and Tobruk. The Libyan internationally-recognized parliament, the House of Representatives, is based in Tobruk.
Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) militiamen took over the capital last summer. They set up their own government and reinstated the General National Congress (GNC), which had been dissolved earlier.
The United Nations has been making efforts to broker a deal on the establishment of a national unity government in the war-ravaged North African nation since January.
Several rounds of talks so far have failed to produce a deal.