US condemns deadly Libyan strike on Greek-owned tanker

The United States Tuesday condemned a strike by Libyan aircraft that bombed an oil tanker off the Islamist-held port of Derna, killing two crew members.

The crewmen — a Greek and a Romanian — were killed on the Liberian-registered vessel, the Araevo.

Two other crewmen, both Filipinos, were wounded in the attack.

The remaining 22 crew members — 19 Filipinos, two Greeks and a Romanian — are said to be in good health on board the tanker.

The tanker was hit Sunday after it raised suspicions by refusing to stop for checks on its cargo, according to armed forces under the internationally recognized Libyan government.

“We strongly condemn the January 4 bombing of a Greek-operated oil tanker near Derna,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

“The ongoing escalation of violence in Libya against civilian commercial interests further widens a conflict that is fundamentally political,” she said.

More than three years after dictator Muammar Gaddafi was toppled and killed, the country remains awash in weapons and powerful militias, and has rival governments and parliaments.

An internationally recognized government has taken refuge in the country’s remote east.

The continuous violence “threatens the integrity, unity, neutrality, and independence of Libya’s critical institutions, including the National Oil Company,” Psaki said.

“The United States remains committed to working with the international community to help the Libyan people establish an inclusive system of government,” the spokeswoman added.

The attack on the Araevo is the third in less than a week involving Filipino seafarers, who make up a quarter of the world’s sea manning force. Earlier at the weekend, an all-Filipino manned cargo vessel overturned off the coast of Vietnam, killing two, with the chief cook surviving. The 16 other Filipino crew members were declared missing.