By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli and Benghazi, 13 May 2015:
It is being alleged the Turkish freighter attacked on Sunday was shipping a . . .[restrict]large group of militants from Syria to Derna.
Air Force chief Saqr Geroushi has told the Libya Herald that the Tuna-1 was carrying 60 fighters from Syria, who, he said, were members of the Battar Brigade.
The government today said foreign shipping should not to enter Libyan territorial waters unless passage has been authorised. The warning came after army artillery and warplanes attacked the Turkish vessel in the belief that it was travelling to IS-held Derna.
The government maintains that the freighter was inside Libyan waters on course for Derna. It claimed that the master was warned to turn back before his ship was fired upon. The Turkish government has retorted that the vessel was 13 miles off the coast and therefore in international waters. It also said that the freighter was carrying plasterboard from Spain for a scheduled delivery in Tobruk.
The second officer of the Tuna-1 told Turkish media when the freighter arrived at the Turkish port of Mugla, that there had been no warning. Zafer Kalayci, who was wounded in the air attack which killed the third officer, told the Dogan News Agency: “I was on duty. They gave no warning whatsoever. What they mean by warning is probably the first bomb”.
Kalayci went on to explain that it was the second attack which killed his unnamed shipmate. He said that the attack came in even though the ship had “already distanced itself” from the Libyan coast by some 12 or 13 miles.
“While we were gathering the crew in the back of the ship with our third officer, bombs hit us.” he said, “When we took cover and fled inside, he [the third officer] found himself in the middle of bombs and shrapnel.” Kalayci added: “We practiced a blackout on the ship and silently moved toward Crete to save ourselves”.
The maritime security company MAST today advised that the Libyan government would assume that any vessel bound for Derna would be carrying arms. It pointed out that this was the second attack on a vessel near the port. This January two crew members of a Greek tanker, Araevo were killed and two injured when the ship was hit in an airstrike two miles off Derna.
Yet six days ago the NOC announced that a tanker had brought the first supply of heavy oil for Derna power station since that January attack. NOC said of the delivery: “This is a significant move that restores confidence to the oil market and gives the impression that the Libyan coasts are safe”.
MAST’s chief Gerry Northwood however said because the security situation could change rapidly “Whilst Libyan ports are generally open for business, we strongly advise that commercial shipping carry out a security risk assessment of the port and its immediate environs prior to making a port call”.