The Libyan coast guard on Sunday rescued 316 illegal migrants of different African nationalities in three separate operations off the country’s western coast.
“The coast guard patrol rescued 114 migrants on a rickety rubber boat 13 miles (20.9 km) from the city of Zawiya,” the Navy spokesman Ayob Qassem told Xinhua.
Zawiya lies some 45 km east of the capital Tripoli.
“In the second operation, 97 migrants were rescued on a board that almost drowned,” said Qassem, adding that the operation took place 35 miles off the coast of Janzur town, some 15 km west of Tripoli.
All the rescued migrants were taken to the Tripoli navy base and then transferred to a migrant shelter in the east of the capital, Qassem noted.
The third operation managed to rescue 105 migrants off the coast of the city of Zuwara, some 120 km west of Tripoli, according to Basem Al-Ghrabli, head of the anti-illegal immigration department of the nearby Sabratha city.
Al-Ghrabli revealed that two Libyans wanted for crimes of murder and armed robbery were on the boat bound for Italy.
Libya is a preferred point of departure for illegal immigrants hoping to cross the Mediterranean toward European shores, because of insecurity and chaos in the country following the 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Muammar Gaddafi.