Seized oil tanker Morning Glory arrives in Libyan capital
ON BOARD THE MORNING GLORY, Libya (Reuters) - A commercial oil tanker seized by U.S. forces after it loaded crude at a Libya port held by anti-government rebels has docked back in the capital Tripoli, a Reuters witness said on Sunday.
U.S. special forces boarded the tanker a week ago off Cyprus, days after it left Es Sider port, which is controlled by rebels who demand more autonomy and oil wealth in defiance of the central government.
A Reuters reporter was allowed to board the Morning Glory moored near the Tripoli coast, witnessing how Libyan navy forces arrested the 21-strong crew and three rebels who had boarded the ship at Es Sider.
It was a rare victory for Tripoli, which is struggling to end a port blockade by rebels, one of many challenges facing the central government which has failed to secure the North African country three years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.
Former anti-Gaddafi rebels and militias refuse to surrender their weapons and often use force or control of oil facilities to make demands on a state whose army is still in training with Western governments.
Tired-looking Pakistani captain Mirza Noman Baig showed navy personnel the damage resulting from a fire fight with the Libyan navy before the vessel escaped from Libya. “This all,” he said, referring to cracks and bullet holes on the tanker’s crew office and an oil tank.
Libyan soldiers removed the crew on a small boat where they huddled in the open in the back on their way to Tripoli port.