U.S. navy hands oil tanker to Libya

The North Korean-flagged tanker was seized after the vessel took to sea with crude oil illegally loaded at a Libyan rebel-held port

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The U.S. navy handed over to Libyan authorities a tanker it had seized earlier for illegally loading oil at a rebel-held port, officials said Saturday.

The tanker, called Morning Glory, is due to arrive on Saturday at Libya’s Zawiya port, 40 kilometers west of the capital Tripoli.

“Earlier today, U.S. forces turned control of the M/T Morning Glory over to the government of Libya,” the American embassy said in a statement carried by Agence France-Presse.

“The handover took place in international waters off the coast of Libya, and the government of Libya and its security forces are now in control of the vessel,” the statement added.

The North Korean-flagged tanker was intercepted by U.S. special forces on Sunday off Cyprus, days after it left Libya with a cargo of crude from a rebel-held port.

Es Sider port is controlled by rebels who want more autonomy and oil wealth in defiance of the central government.

The tanker saga is seen by some as exposing the weakness of the Libyan government, which is struggling to rein in militias since the ouster of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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