U.S. forces hand rogue tanker over to Libyan authorities

U.S. forces hand rogue tanker over to Libyan authorities

The U.S. Navy handed over to Libyan authorities on Saturday an oil tanker carrying crude that had been loaded at a port controlled by armed rebels in defiance of Tripoli’s government.

The Morning Glory tanker was due to arrive later on Saturday at a government-controlled port after being seized by U.S. commandos and escorted back through international waters by the U.S. Navy, Libyan officials said.

Hours before the handover, at least 16 people were wounded when Libyan rebels occupying three eastern oil ports clashed with troops and attacked an army base, where pro-government forces had been preparing to break the rebel blockade.

Anti-aircraft gunfire and explosions were heard overnight and after dawn on Saturday in Ajdabiya, the hometown of rebel leader Ibrahim Jathran, whose fighters seized the ports last summer to demand a greater share in Libya’s oil resources. …

“The handover took place in international waters off the coast of Libya, and the Government of Libya and its security forces are now in control of the vessel,” the U.S. embassy said in a statement. …

Abdullah Rashid, controller at Zawiya port, which is located 55 km (34 miles) west of the capital… said the Morning Glory would arrive late at night at Tripoli port and then continue on Sunday or Monday to Zawiya, though a navy spokesman declined to confirm this.

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