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Libya Warplane Hits Trawler Carrying Gasoline to Benghazi

  • Reuters

Sirte, Libya

Sirte, Libya

A Libyan warplane attacked a fishing trawler carrying gasoline to the port of Benghazi this week after the internationally recognized government suspected it of supplying Islamist militants, a military official said on Thursday.

Libya's recognized government, which has been driven out of the capital, is locked in escalating conflict with a self-declared government of a faction known as Libya Dawn that seized Tripoli last summer.

There were no details about the ownership or origin of the vessel that military official Mohamed Hejazi said was attacked Tuesday off the coast of the eastern city of Benghazi, which has seen heavy fighting for months between pro-government forces and Islamist militants.

Forces from the recognized government carried out an air strike on a Greek-operated oil tanker on Jan. 4, killing two crewmen, after claiming it was acting suspiciously.

The United Nations on Thursday held a second day of talks aimed at ending Libya's crisis, forming a unity government and halting hostilities. But representatives of the Tripoli government have postponed a decision to join talks.

"Discussions during the first session on Wednesday were constructive and were conducted in a positive atmosphere. There was a clear sense of determination among the participants to ensure that this dialog succeeds," the U.N. said in a statement.

Each rival government is backed by heavily armed factions of former rebels who once battled side by side to oust Gadhafi, but have since turned against each other in a scramble for power and control over Libya's oil wealth.

Fighting over oil assets has closed two major oil ports in the east and slashed Libya's oil output to around 300,000 barrels per day from the 1.6 million bpd produced before the NATO-backed civil war toppled Gadhafi in 2011.