Turkish ship attacked off Libya, third officer killed, several wounded

Turkish ship attacked off Libya, third officer killed, several wounded

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Turkish ship attacked off Libya, third officer killed, several wounded

DHA Photo

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 May 11. 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 May 11, 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. Those who are committing these crimes should be held responsible within the framework of the U.N. charter and relevant U.N. Security Council decisions, it added. 

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced that Turkey sent frigate off Libya to escort Tuna 1.

Turkey issues diplomatic note in protest

The ship was damaged but is still sailing on way back to Turkey, a Turkish official told the 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. 

Ankara has taken diplomatic steps at the United Nations and the International Marine Organization.

There is no other Turkish vessel in the area at the moment, the official has said. 

Libyan military: We had warned

A Libyan military spokesman speaking to Reuters, on the other hand, said May 11 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. The Turkish special representative to Libya, Emrullah İşler, became the first envoy to publicly meet with the internationally unrecognized authorities in Tripoli last year, adding to accusations that Ankara is pursuing an Islamist-leaning foreign agenda that has already seen it alienate numerous former allies in the region.

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.”