Potential threat to unauthorised vessels entering Libyan waters
There have been a number of attacks on merchant vessels entering Libyan waters this year.
The latest strike against a merchant ship off the Libyan coast was on the 24th May and emphasises the unpredictable situation in this region. The tanker 'Anwaar Afriqah', which was damaged and with one crew member killed in the air attack, is a Libyan flagged ship with the state-owned General National Maritime Transport Company. This incident illustrates threat presented by the continuing conflict between the rival governments operating from Tobruk and Tripoli and attacks made by them against perceived insurgents.
A second merchant ship operating near Derna was fatally attacked by military forces earlier in May. The Turkish owned vessel was shelled in international waters as it approached the port of Tobruk and then attacked from the air as it tried to leave the area. The ship's third officer was killed during the attacks.
Reuters have reported that the ship was targeted about 10 miles from the coast after it was told not to break a ban on approaching the eastern city of Derna according to Libyan military spokesman Mohamed Hejazi told Reuters. The ban is alleged to be an effort to prevent the supply of Islamist militias in the area.
Previously in January, a Greek operated tanker, the MT Araevo, was attacked off the port of Derna by a Libyan air force jet and two of its crew were killed. In August 2014 a similar attack at Derna was made on a Greek operated bulk carrier, MV Iron Baron V, although no casualties were sustained.
The threat of air attack also led to the last commercial international airline services into Libya to be suspended.
Members are advised to declare voyages to Libyan Port Authorities and any vessels trading to Libyan ports should avoid the waters of Derna and Benghazi.
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