Middle East

Turkish cargo ship comes under attack off Libya, 1 dead

The Turkish cargo ship that came under attack off the Libyan coast Sunday, which left an officer dead, will arrive in Turkey Tuesday, the ship’s captain told Anadolu Agency Monday.

Earlier, the Turkish Foreign Ministry confirmed Monday that a Turkish cargo ship had been attacked off the coast of Libya’s port city of Tobruk.

The ship was first attacked by artillery fire and was targeted again in two separate airstrikes.

"The Tuna-1 ship flagged with Cook Island was attacked in international waters about 13 miles [21 kilometers] off the coast of Tobruk, when it was carrying a drywall cargo from Spain," the ministry said in a statement.

When the ship tried to leave the region after the artillery attack, it came under two separate airstrikes that resulted in the death of a Turkish citizen, who was the ship's third officer; other crew members also received injuries, the statement added.

Captain Unal Bilici told Anadolu Agency that the ship was targeted without warning late Sunday with heavy weapons while it was sailing off the coast of Tobruk.

Bilici said that they moved further off the coast following the first attack and sent an emergency signal, which was responded by Greek, Maltan and French coastguards.

He said that an air offensive on the ship began just 10 minutes after the first attack, which resulted in the death of the ship’s third officer. Later, another attack followed.

The engine room and the crew’s emergency shelter were targeted in all three attacks. Although the crew was able to put out the fire that broke out after the attack, the ship was left severely damaged, the captain said.

The captain added that a total of 15 crew members were on board at the time of attack, including eight Turkish, six Georgian and one Azeri-origin member.

He said that a group of ships from the Turkish Naval Forces will arrive in five hours to accompany Tuna-1, and the ship was expected to dock at Fethiye Port in southwestern Turkey’s Mugla province.

Turkey strongly condemned the "heinous and atrocious attack" perpetrated against a civilian ship in international waters. It protested the attack with the Libyan authorities and demanded an immediate end to the attacks on its affected ship and other Turkish ships in the region.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu described the attack as “barbaric.”

“ Turkey has sent a diplomatic note and its response to the consulate-general ofLibya in Istanbul, consulate-general in Istanbul and the embassy of Libya in Ankara,” Cavusoglu told Turkey’s state-run TRT channel Monday afternoon. 

Turkey also instructed its ambassador in London to take appropriate action, and the envoy in response approached the London-based International Maritime Organization over the incident.

“We also gave instructions to our Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations to take action,” he said.

According to the Foreign Ministry’s statement, Ankara also warned of legal actions against those responsible for the attack in accordance with international law; Turkey also reserved the right to demand compensation, it added.

Turkey's Special Envoy on Libya Emrullah Isler also stressed that Ankara always stood by its citizens and protected their rights. Isler said that Turkey supported stability in Libya. He called for a thorough probe into the incident.

The commander of the Libyan air force affiliated with the Tobruk-based parliament told Anadolu Agency that the Turkish cargo ship had been bombed for allegedly refusing to heed orders to stop.

"The ship violated Libyan territorial water despite warnings from the Libyan army," Saqr al-Garrouchi said Monday.

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