850 migrants intercepted off Libya’s coast

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Libyan coastguards on Sunday intercepted around 850 migrants off the coast near the western city of Sabratha, a spokesman said.

Ayoub Qassem said the migrants were from various African countries and among them were 69 women, including 11 who were pregnant, as well as 11 children. They were travelling in inflatable rubber boats, he said.

Libya is a major departure point for many sub-Saharan African migrants trying to reach Europe through perilous journeys organized by people smugglers.

The migrants are often given flimsy boats that are ill-equipped for travelling across the Mediterranean.

More than 30,000 have already crossed on the central Mediterranean route to Italy this year, and more are expected to attempt the journey in calmer weather during the summer.

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