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Libyan Coast Guard picks up 500 migrants near Tripoli

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

Reuters Tripoli, Libya Sep 20, 2019, 11.21 AM (IST)

Libya's Coast Guard said late on Thursday that it had picked up 493 migrants on six inflatable boats as a part of six operations in a week in the areas northeast and northwest of Tripoli, the capital.

"The migrants, including 28 women and five children, are from Sub-Saharan, Arab, and Asian countries. They were all moved to detention centres run by the UN-backed Government of National Accord", Coast Guard spokesperson Ayoub Qassem said. 

Libya’s western coast is the main departure point for migrants fleeing war and poverty and hoping for new lives in Europe, though the number of crossings has dropped sharply since July 2017.

According to Qassem, the migrants were taken to various detention centres: 173 to Komas, some 120 km east of Tripoli, 166 to Tripoli, 50 to Zawiya, and 104 to Zuwarah, both towns that are west of Tripoli.

Earlier on Thursday, a Sudanese migrant died at the Abu Sittah Naval Base in Tripoli from a bullet wound, hours after being returned to shore by the Libyan Coast Guard. There was no immediate comment on the incident from the Coast Guard.

Libya plunged into chaos following the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) backed uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with many armed groups and two administrations vying for power.

Story highlights

Libya’s western coast is the main departure point for migrants fleeing war and poverty and hoping for new lives in Europe, though the number of crossings has dropped sharply since July 2017.