BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Libyan war planes sank one ship and attacked a second vessel on Sunday near the eastern city of Benghazi, military spokesmen for the country’s internationally recognized government said on Monday.
There was no independent confirmation for the strike near the town of Mareesa, the latest attack on ships in Libya where two governments and parliaments are fighting for control years after the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi.
“The vessel was sunk because it had loaded fighters, weapons and ammunition to support terrorism in the eastern region,” air force spokesman Nasser al-Hassi said early on Monday.
Mohamed El Hejazi, a spokesman for Khalifa Haftar, top army commander of the internationally recognized government based in eastern Libya, said the strike had also targeted a second vessel which had been carrying weapons in the same area.
A military official in Mareesa said the vessels were only small ships like fishing boats coming from western Libya, which is controlled by a rival government challenging the official administration based in the east since losing Tripoli a year ago.
“One boat was sunk, the other is burning,” the official said, asking not to be named.
A Reuters reporter had heard planes on Sunday circling above Benghazi, which is about 20 km (12 miles) from Mareesa.
Tripoli-based state oil firm NOC has accused the eastern government of having three times bombed oil tankers that the eastern forces had said carried weapons and ammunition.
The official government is based in the east since losing the capital a year ago to a rival group, which set up its own administration. Both have attacked each other with aircraft.
Both governments control limited territory in the oil producer. Islamic State militants have exploited a security vacuum to expand in Libya, beheading and kidnapping foreigners while also attacking foreign missions in Tripoli and fighting with forces of both governments.
Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli, Mostafa Hashem and Ahmed Elumami; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Eric Walsh and Ralph Boulton