The third officer aboard a Turkish cargo ship was killed and other crew members were injured after the vessel came under shell fire off the coast of Libya yesterday evening.
Announcing the news, the Turkish foreign ministry said that, according to the reports it had received, 4,276 gt Tuna 1 was in international waters 13 nm off Tobruk when it came under fire as it proceeded towards the port with a cargo of plasterboard.
However AISLive data appears suggest the vessel was travelling within Libya’s territorial waters, about 8nm off the port of Derna.
The Turkish ministry said that the vessel, which is operated by Bergen Denizcilik of Istanbul under Cook Islands flag, came under attack on two more occasions as it tried to leave the area following the initial attack.
It gave no more details concerning what it said had been a “heinous” attack but said that it had protested strongly to the Libyan authorities and demanded that all actions threatening the security of the ship and other Turkish vessels in the area be halted.
Reuters quoted the internationally recognised Libyan government as saying that the Tuna 1 was on fire and was being towed to the port of Tobruk.
A spokesman said that one crewman had been killed in the attack and one injured, adding that it had warned the vessel not to approach the coast.
The Tobruk-based internationally recognised government in Libya said earlier this year that it would cease dealing with Turkey, claiming that it was supporting an opposition group in Tripoli.
Turkey denies this, claiming that it is supporting international efforts to broker a peace agreement between the country’s warring factions.
In January, two crew members aboard a Greek-operated oil tanker were killed and two others wounded after the vessel came under attack from the air as it approached the port of Derna, also in eastern Libya.
The Liberian-flagged Araevo, laden with 12,600 tonnes of crude oil, was targeted by an aircraft belonging to Libya’s internationally recognised government while it was at anchor two miles from the port.
At the time, the government claimed that the vessel, which was on charter to Libya’s National Oil Corporation and traded regularly between the ports of Brega and Derna, had been behaving suspiciously.