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EU tightens squeeze on Libya oil

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(BRUSSELS) - The European Union tightened the noose on Moamer Kadhafi's regime Wednesday, slapping new sanctions on the Libyan oil sector and banning aircraft suspected of carrying mercenaries from EU airspace.

In a fourth wave of EU sanctions against Tripoli, theEU ordered an assets freeze on the National Oil Corp. and five of its subsidiaries as well as targeting a further 14 economic entities and 25 Kadhafi associates, diplomats said.

The freeze on the National Oil Corporation follows UN resolution 1973, which placed the entity on its sanctions list on the grounds that it was under the control of Kadhafi and his family.

The state oil firm was targeted by US sanctions on Tuesday as "a primary funding source" of the Kadhafi regime.

The latest EU sanctions also included "further oil companies that were not mentioned in Resolution 1973," the EU's rotating Hungarian presidency said in a statement.

Wednesday's EU sanctions, to be enforced in 24 hours when the list of targets is published in the bloc's Official Journal, leaves dozens of firms and individuals hit by restrictive measures in Europe.

Reinforcing an earlier EU embargo on arms sales to Libya, the bloc also banned Libyan aircraft from EU airpscae "as well as any aircraft it has reason to believe is carrying prohibited items, including armed mercenary personnel."

Earlier multi-billion-dollar EU sanctions came into force last week, targeting state vehicles holding billions in assets and investments.

Among them was the Libyan Investment Authority -- also known as the Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company -- which is the overseas vehicle for investing Tripoli's oil revenues and is a potential source of funding for the regime.

Others were the Central Bank of Libya, the Libya Africa Investment Portfolio and the Libyan Foreign Bank.

Kadhafi, as well as his seven sons and his daughter, along with his wife Safia al-Barassi, were on an initial list of people hit by an asset freeze and visa ban.

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