A leading NGO is reporting that an inflatable craft carrying approximately 150 migrants has been approached and boarded by a speedboat carrying the emblems of the Libyan Coastguard, who proceeded to attack the vessel’s passengers with “sticks”.
According to the statement, issued within the last hour by the German rescue organisation, Sea Watch four corpses have been recovered, with a further four migrants unconscious and receiving medical treatment.
According to the rescue organisation’ statement, two of their speed boats were providing life vests and first aid to around 150 migrants aboard a rubber vessel located about 14 nautical miles off the Libyan coast when they were approached by a further speedboat marked with the insignia of the Libyan coast guard. Coast guard crew members then boarded the migrants’ vessel and began to attack its passengers with sticks. Sea Watch then report a panic ensuing which led to one of the craft’s inflatable tubes to collapse and the bulk of the passengers to fall into the water.
According to Sea Watch rescue operations are presently ongoing, with 120 migrants currently said to be onboard their ship, Sea Watch 2.
Contacted by Reuters, a spokesman for Libya’s naval forces in Tripoli said he had no knowledge of the incident.
As part of an earlier agreement between the European Union and the UN backed government in Tripoli, Libya’s Coast guard are to receive training from personnel attached to Operation Sophia, the EU’s maritime mission in the Mediterranean. The training will be made up of three phases: initially on the high sea on board Sophia vessels, then ashore in either Libya or an EU country, and finally on Libyan coastguard and patrol vessels.
Tunisia Live is currently trying to reach representatives of Operation Sophia for comment
Prior to joining Tunisia Live, Simon worked as a freelance journalist. He has lived in Tunisia since 2013 and previously worked in Vietnam and Moscow.