Turkey protests German boarding of ship off Libya in search of arms

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Germany said on Monday that Turkey prevented German sailors belonging to an EU military mission from completing a search of a Turkish cargo ship they had boarded on suspicion of transporting weapons to Libya.

Turkey said the search violated international law.

The Turkish freighter, the Roseline A, was said to have been carrying humanitarian aid to Libya when it was stopped on Sunday by sailors from the frigate Hamburg in the eastern Mediterranean on behalf of an EU mission monitoring violations of a United Nations arms embargo.

Sailors boarded the Roseline A overnight but had to stop the search and withdraw after Turkey protested to the EU monitoring mission, the German Defense Ministry said.

German naval personnel searched the ship until Monday morning without the consent of the Turkish government, according to a Turkish official who spoke to Bloomberg.

The embargo-monitoring mission, Operation Irini, was launched in March to enforce the UN arms embargo on war-torn Libya, where Turkey backs the internationally recognized government in its fight against Russian and Egyptian-backed rebels in the country’s east.

The search of the ship could fuel tensions between the European Union and Ankara that are already high over maritime disputes between Turkey and bloc members Greece and Cyprus.

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