Libyan rebel leader calls US Navy "pirates" after tanker seized
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 01:03
March 19 - A Libyan rebel leader accuses the United States of behaving like pirates after U.S. naval forces seized an oil-laden tanker that had sailed from a rebel-held port in the east of the chaotic North African state. Sarah Toms reports.
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The US naval forces seized the tanker full of oil after it had sailed from this rebel held port in the east of Libya.
Ibrahim Jathran and his followers are seeking greater autonomy in the eastern area and have blocked several ports. This tanker was his latest attempt to export oil independently of Tripoli.
Jathran described the U.S. navy operation as "piracy".
(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LIBYAN REBEL LEADER, IBRAHIM JATHRAN, SAYING:
"While it was travelling in international waters, the militias of the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies and criminals opened fire, as it was heading to Cyprus for repairs. The operation by the U.S. Navy was piracy."
The port blockage has crippled the OPEC country's finances as its main revenue stream remains shut.
(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LIBYA ACTING OIL MINISTER, OMAR SHAKMAK, SAYING:
"Oil exports in the past two or three weeks was between 100 thousand and 120 thousand barrels per day which is considered our lowest production level."
The conflict reflects the wider chaos in Libya, as the government struggles to rein in militias that helped overthrow former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
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