Libyan jets have attacked an oil tanker off the coast near the city of Sirte that the Benghazi-based government said was carrying reinforcements and weapons for rebel fighters.
“Our jets warned an unflagged ship off Sirte city, but it ignored the warning,” Saqer al-Joroushi told Reuters. “We gave it a chance to evaluate the situation, then our fighting jets attacked the ship because it was unloading fighters and weapons.
“The ship now is on fire. We are in war and we do not accept any security breaches, whether by land, air or sea,” Jourushi said.
An oil industry official said the ship was a tanker carrying 25,000 tonnes of oil. He named the tanker as Anwar Afriqya.
Rida Essa, commander of coastal guards in central Libya, said the tanker had been unloading oil for Sirte’s power plant when it came under attack. He said a crew member and a port worker had been wounded.
Libya remains gripped by a power struggle between two governments fighting for control, with the internationally recognised government operating out of the eastern city of Benghazi having lost control of the capital, Tripoli, to the rival grouping last year.
Sirte’s power plant, on the western outskirts of the city, is controlled by forces loyal to the Tripoli government. The rest of the city has fallen into the hands of Islamic State militants, who have exploited the chaos and security vacuum in Libya four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.