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Libyan Rebels Seize Government Oil Tanker

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An oil tanker seized by Libyan rebels arrives in Benghazi after getting NATO clearance. The tanker was owned by Libya's government and was seized by rebels in international waters. Here's more.

A Libyan oil tanker reported to have been seized by rebels opposing Muammar Gaddafi, has arrived in the rebel-held port of Benghazi on Thursday.

NATO ships enforcing an arms embargo cleared the tanker.

Sources familiar with the situation say Libyan rebels seized the tanker Cartagena off Malta and set course for Benghazi.

The rebel captain defected from Gaddafi's forces, and says they had managed to seize the ship in international waters.

[Defected Captain of Oil Tanker "Cartagena"]:
"The tanker is carrying 35.6 metric tons of benzene. It was loaded from Turkey, and tried to unload in the Western area, but it couldn't. It remained docked for two weeks in international waters. When it was docked near Malta, we approached it and managed to gain control."

NATO officials say NATO forces enforcing a U.N. arms embargo on Libya had hailed the ship in the Mediterranean and cleared it to proceed.

The vessel belongs to Libya's General National Maritime Transport Company, which is believed to be controlled by Gaddafi's son Hannibal. He is on a U.N. sanctions list and subject to an asset freeze and a travel ban.

A petroleum industry newsletter, The Petroleum Economist says the Cartagena was carrying almost 40,000 tons of gasoline.

It says the ship was originally chartered to land the fuel in Tripoli. It had been stranded in the Mediterranean after NATO began intercepting seaborne fuel supplies for Gaddafi in May.