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Navy SEALs Seize Hijacked Oil Tanker Near Libya

U.S. Navy SEALs launched an operation to take control of a commercial oil tanker hijacked by Libyan rebels earlier this month.

Navy SEALs Seize Hijacked Oil Tanker Near Libya
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U.S. Navy SEALs took control of a commercial oil tanker hijacked by Libyan rebels earlier this month. 

The Pentagon says a group of Navy SEAL commandos seized the tanker, called Morning Glory, in Mediterranean waters near Cyprus — stopping a group of Libyan militants' plans to sell the oil on the black market.  

The Pentagon's statement Monday did not say how many Americans were involved or what kind of force was used, but reports no one was injured during the operation. 

Morning Glory, which was described by the Pentagon as “a stateless vessel" carrying oil owned by Libya's National Oil Company, was seized by three armed Libyan rebels earlier this month. (Via Al Jazeera

You see, the situation in Libya remains volatile as the country's fragile government struggles to control the divided nation nearly three years after the ouster of longtime ruler Moammar Gaddafi. (Via CCTV)

Much of the government's problems center around the country's oil-rich east region and a local militia leader painting himself as Libya's version of Robin Hood. (Via Voice of America)

CNN explains: "militia leader [Ibrahim Jathran] was [originally] entrusted by the government to safeguard crucial oil ports. But last July, [he] and his men seized them, blocking oil exports, and demanded more autonomy and shared revenues for his eastern region."

The situation escalated after the three militiamen seized Morning Glory with the plan to bypass the national government and sell the oil on the black market. 

The New York Times explains without U.S. intervention, Tripoli faced losing "its main source of revenue and ... sole source of political power ..."

"The loss of control over oil revenue threatened the government so gravely that [it] appeared to teeter, with Parliament voting to remove its prime minister without any consensus on his long-term replacement."

Jathran claims the transitional government is corrupt, and wants to withdraw the eastern region from its rule. The Pentagon announced a Navy crew alongside a guided missile destroyer will turn over Morning Glory back to the control of Libyan officials.