Libyan Forces Capture Smugglers

By Shujaa Kwanzaa

Map of Libya

Map of Libya

According to international reports, on Friday, April 28, 2017 Libyan naval forces captured two vessels suspected of smuggling oil from the North African country.

The capture took place after prolonged gun battles lasting several hours west of the national Libyan capital city of Tripoli.

According to these reports Libyan forces frequently capture vessels smuggling oil and arms off the coast. This North African nation has become a haven for migrant smugglers who take advantage of the country’s political turmoil to ship people across to Europe.

In these reports Ayoub Qassem, a spokesman for the Libyan naval forces, said a Ukraine-flagged tanker Routa and a vessel with an unspecified African nation’s flag named Stark were captured early Friday, April 28, 2017.

“Clashes lasted for three hours, but the two tankers were successfully seized,” Qassem said.

The incident occurred in the Sidi Said area west of Tripoli. Qassem did not report any casualties or give details on what happened to the crew of the vessels or their nationalities.

Politically, Libya is still caught in turmoil among rival military factions who once fought against the former leader, Muammar Gaddafi, but then turned against one another in a multi-sided power struggle.

A United Nations (UN) backed government in Tripoli is struggling to assert control since arriving in Libya more than a year ago. Libya’s oil infrastructure is also often targeted by fighting or blockades as rival groups seek to gain wealth or leverage.

 

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