August 28, 2017 / 3:57 PM / a month ago

Libyan navy seizes tanker over suspected smuggling - spokesman

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libyan naval forces on Sunday seized a Liberian-flagged oil tanker and detained its mainly Filipino crew on suspicion of smuggling oil off the Abu Kammash area west of the capital Tripoli, a naval spokesman said.

Libyan coast guards often seize tankers suspected of smuggling oil and gasoline off the coast that has become a haven for migrants and smugglers taking advantage of chaos that followed the 2011 fall of former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

In the latest case, the Levane tanker with its crew of 20 members from the Philippines was seized on Monday afternoon by a patrol, naval spokesman Ayoub Qassem said.

“The capacity of the tanker Levane is six million litres and it is a Greek-owned company tanker,” Qassim said, adding that members of the crew were being questioned.

A U.N.-backed government of national accord has been trying to restore stability to the North African country since March 2016, but has struggled to impose control.

Seven years after the civil war in 2011 that toppled Gaddafi, Libya has slipped into chaos and constant fighting between rivals vying for power. Its oil industry is often targeted by protests, shutdowns and armed violence.

Reporting by Ahmed Elumami; Editing by Patrick Markey and Edmund Blair

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