Russian freighter MERLE seized by Libyan militants in international waters
Russian general cargo vessel MERLE was intercepted by Libyan Coast Guard Zawiya Squad on Mar 5 in Libyan waters, and taken to Tripoli, where she arrived in the afternoon, and since that time remains under arrest. MERLE was en route to Libyan Zuwara port “to load scrap metal to Turkey, a booming illegal trade in Libya”, says The Libya Observer. 7 crew were also arrested, they’re under investigation launched by Tripoli-based Special Deterrence Force, whatever it means. It is said, that the crew didn’t have entry permission from Libyan authorities. On a photo moment of interception.
Mar 8 UPDATE
I’ve been contacted by ship’s owner on Mar 8, he informed me, that the vessel was seized on Mar 5, while sailing some 60 nm off Libyan coast in international waters. Vessel was ballasting to Zuwara port for the shipment of scrap, under absolutely legal, standard charter contract. Vessel was approached by a boat with armed unidentified militants, they boarded the vessel and took her under control, switching off all communications equipment, both vessel’s and crew. Vessel was taken to Tripoli Naval Base, according to latest available data, on Mar 8 vessel was in the same position. Owner informed Russian authorities and insurers, an emergency team was established, to coordinate efforts aimed at vessel and crew soonest release.
Vessel according to locals, was seized by Special Deterrence Force: Interior Ministry - RADA Special Deterrence Forces is a new special operations military police investigations and operations unit formed in Tripoli Libya (Wikipedia).