Libya: Turkish tanker seized in oil smuggling city of Zuwarah

oil-tankerArmed men in the Libyan city of Zuwarah, hub of oil smuggling activities, have seized a Turkish tanker.

The vessel according to Turkish media is called Haci Telli and is operated by the Istanbul-based Transpacific Shipping Company. The tanker headed from the Turkish port of Tuzla to Malta before arriving in Zuwarah on February 24.

Turkish media Deniz News Agency notes that the vessel was scheduled to return to Malta. The crew has been kept hostage since February 24 over oil payment disagreement.

The Turkish vessel is not the first international ship to be captured by armed men on the Mediterranean coast of Libya. In February 2016 a Sierra Leone-flagged oil tanker carrying nationals from the Ukraine, Turkey, and Azerbaijan was seized by the Tripoli Coast Guard off the coast of Zuwarah while heading towards Malta, reports say.

The oil tanker was reportedly carrying 1.5 million liters of petrol from Zuwarah.

Libyan authorities in Tripoli, backed by the international community, have repeatedly complained about oil smuggling activities involving foreign oil tankers.

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