Libya arrests 124 migrants bound for Europe

2015-09-18 15:00

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Qarabulli - Libyan authorities have arrested more than 100 people near Tripoli as they were preparing to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, a coastguard official said.

"We arrested 124 migrants including eight women... in Qarabulli as they prepared to head to a boat bound for Europe," he told AFP.

"We received information about their location and it seemed that they were readying to leave so we raided the place and arrested them" on Thursday, the official said. "We will transport these African migrants to a shelter in Tripoli."

An AFP photographer saw groups of people boarding buses at a detention centre in Qarabulli, 60km east of Tripoli before they were taken to a shelter for migrants in the capital's Souq al-Ahad neighbourhood.

Migrants and refugees

Libya, with a coastline of 1 770km, has for years been a stepping stone for migrants seeking a better life in Europe.

People smugglers have taken advantage of chaos in the North African country since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi to step up their lucrative business.

The arrest comes after repeated incidents of migrant boats sinking off the Libyan coast on their way to Italy often due to overcrowding on precarious vessels.

Earlier this month Libya's coastguard said it rescued more than 100 migrants off Qarabulli after the engine on their rubber dinghy broke down.

A few days before it said it saved another 104 migrants in the same area as their Zodiac boat - built to carry up to 35 people - was about to start sinking.

More than 430 000 migrants and refugees have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe this year alone, the International Organisation for Migration has said.

At least 2 500 people have died during the treacherous crossing.

Read more on:    libya  |  migrants  |  north africa

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