Jan 062015

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman and Assistant Secretary Charles Jose. AFP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Three Filipino seamen on board a Greek-owned tanker were injured, one of them critically, when a Libyan fighter jet attacked the vessel in Derna, Libya, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday.

Assistant Secretary Charles Jose, the DFA spokesman, said the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli had reported that two Filipino crewmembers suffered minor injuries while a third was in the intensive care unit of a hospital.

Reports said two crewmembers—a Romanian and a German—were killed when the tanker was hit in the air strike which was launched by the Libyan military that was said to be suspicious of the vessel.

Twenty-one members of the crew of 26 were Filipinos, with three Greeks and two Romanians.

The air force of Libya’s internationally recognized government said on Monday that it carried out a deadly weekend air strike on an oil tanker in the Islamist-held eastern port of Derna.

The air force opened fire after the crew refused to heed orders to stop for a search, spokesperson Col. Ahmed Mesmari said, describing the tanker as “suspicious.”

Mesmari said the tanker had turned off its lights “in preparation for entering the (Derna) port…and because of this, it and its cargo were considered suspicious.”

According to Greek coast guards, the vessel was at anchor and laden with 1,600 tons of crude oil when it was hit.

The jihadist Islamic State (IS) group that has seized chunks of Iraq and Syria is thought to have gained a foothold in Derna amid the chaos in Libya since the 2011 uprising that ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Jose urged Filipinos in Libya anew to take extra precautions, reminding them that the government continued to maintain its alert level 4 classification for the Middle East country.–Christine O. Avendaño and AFP

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