Monday, May 11, 2015

Turkish ship shelled off Libya: third officer dead, several crew wounded

Turkish ship shelled off Libya: third officer dead, several crew wounded
A Turkish dry cargo ship’s third officer was killed and several other crew members were wounded after the ship was shelled off the Libyan coast and attacked from the air, the Turkish Foreign Ministry stated on Monday. Ankara has issued a diplomatic note in protest at the Libyan authorities, and the ship is returning to Turkey after asking for an escort, a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News.

The Cook Islands flagged ship named “Tuna-1” was approaching Tobruk Part to deliver sheetrock cargo taken from Spain when it was shelled late on May 10 in international waters 13 miles away from Tobruk Port, the ministry said in a written statement on Monday, noting that the ship was also attacked from the air twice as it tried to leave the area.

The ministry condemned the attack and said Ankara conveyed its protest to the Libyan authorities and asked them to end actions against the security of other Turkish ships in the region, including the “Tuna-1.” It also demanded legal action to be taken against those responsible for the attack, the statement added.

It noted that Turkey reserved all its rights deriving from international law, including compensation, and necessary applications in international organizations were being made. The statement said the attack was a “new example” of a violation of international law by those who earlier bombed civilian infrastructure such as Libya’s seaports and airports. 

The ship was damaged but is still sailing on way back to Turkey, a Turkish official told Hürriyet Daily News, adding that the “Tuna-1” was off the Cretan coast late on May 10. The ship has asked for an escort and authorities are working to provide the assistance, the official noted.

The Foreign Ministry statement did not specify who launched the attacks. Turkish authorities asked for an explanation from the Libyan authorities, issuing a diplomatic note of protest at both the Libyan Consulate in Istanbul and the Libyan Embassy in Ankara, according to the official. 

A Libyan military spokesman speaking to Reuters, on the other hand, said Monday that the Turkish vessel was bombed “after it was warned not to approach the Libyan city of Derna.”

Turkey has long had strong links with oil-rich Libya, but the latter has been riven with divisions since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. 

Abdullah al-Thinni, the prime minister of the Libyan interim government, earlier accused Turkey of interfering in the domestic affairs of Libya and warned that the government could put an end to investments by Turkish companies in the country.

Back on Jan. 7, the Turkish Foreign Ministry had also released a statement saying a threat to shoot down Turkish civilian and military aircraft had been posted on a Facebook page allegedly belonging to the Libyan Air Force. 

“This irresponsible statement in contravention of international law is totally unacceptable. We strongly condemn this hostile statement targeting Turkey,” the ministry stated at the time, also warning all Turkish citizens in Libya to evacuate the country “immediately.”
Hurriyet Daily News

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