Libya captures two suspected oil smuggling tankers

Libyan Naval forces says they have captured two vessels suspected of smuggling oil from the North African country, after gun battle that lasted several hours in the west of the capital, Tripoli.

Ayoub Qassem, spokesman for the service said  in Libya, adding that the forces frequently captured vessels smuggling oil and arms off the coast.

The spokesman said the Ukraine-flagged tanker Routa and a vessel with an unspecified African nation’s flag named Stark were captured early Friday at the Sidi Said west of Tripoli.

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

He further said that Libya had become a haven for migrant smugglers who take advantage of the country’s turmoil to ship people across to Europe.

Qassem, however, did not report any casualty or give details on what happened to the crew of the vessels or their nationalities.

Six years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is still caught in turmoil among rival military factions.

The faction, which once fought against Gaddafi have against one another in a multi-sided power struggle.

A 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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