North Korean-flagged tanker loads oil at seized Libyan port-officials

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A North Korean-flagged tanker is docked at the Es Sider export terminal in Ras Lanuf March 8, 2014. Libya threatened on Saturday to bomb a North Korean-flagged tanker if it tried to ship oil from a rebel-controlled port, in a major escalation of a standoff over the country's petroleum wealth. The rebels, who have seized three major Libyan ports since August to press their demands for more autonomy, warned Tripoli against staging an attack to halt the oil sale after the tanker docked at Es Sider terminal, one of the country's biggest. The vessel started loading crude late at night, oil officials said. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - A North Korean-flagged tanker has started loading oil at a Libyan port seized by rebels in the east of the country, port and oil officials said on Saturday.

The Libyan government threatened earlier on Saturday to bomb the vessel if it tried to ship the cargo out of Es Sider port. The rebels want to sell the oil to bypass the government and get a greater share of the country's oil wealth.

"The loading has started," a port worker told Reuters. A spokesman for state-run National Oil Corp (NOC) confirmed this.