176 migrants rescued off Libya, 110 others turned back

National

ROME (AP) — Humanitarian groups on Sunday said they rescued 176 migrants on two rubber boats in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya while Tunisian authorities reported blocking a smuggling boat carrying 110 migrants from setting off for Italy.

Doctors Without Borders and SOS Mediterranee said their Ocean Viking ship rescued 74 migrants Sunday morning about 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the Libyan coast near an oilfield. The groups said six children were among those rescued. In the afternoon, the groups said they rescued 102 people aboard another rubber boat about 40 miles off the coast. They said 12 women, four of them pregnant, and nine children were on board.

Tunisia’s interior ministry said three coast guard boats pursued the smuggling boat after it left Friday night from the city of Sfax. Officers shouted through loudspeakers at the boat and passengers threw projectiles that injured two officers and broke windows.

The coast guard eventually forced the boat back toward Tunisia and rescued 25 migrants who had jumped into the sea.

Meanwhile, three small boats carrying migrants reached Italian shores on Sunday. ANSA, the Italian news agency, said two boats – one carrying 15 people, the other 11 – landed on the island of Lampedusa. The agency says a third boat with 15 Tunisians aboard landed in southern Sicily.

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