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Libyan Coast Guard Has Dangerous Encounter with German Rescue Boat

Migrants are detained at Abosetta base in Tripoli, Libya, May 10, 2017.
Migrants are detained at Abosetta base in Tripoli, Libya, May 10, 2017.

A Libyan Coast Guard ship picked up more than 350 migrants at sea Wednesday after a potentially deadly encounter with a German rescue boat.

No casualties were reported, and all the migrants rescued off the coastal city of Sabratha are safely back in Tripoli.

A Libyan navy spokesman said the migrants were packed on a wooden boat. As the Coast Guard vessel approached, another boat from the German rescue group Sea Watch came dangerously close to ramming the Libyan ship.

Sea Watch was apparently attempting to drive off the Libyans, saying it is unsafe for the migrants to be taken back to Tripoli.

It is unclear if Libyan authorities plan to take any legal action against Sea Watch.

Tens of thousands of African and Middle Eastern migrants try to reach the European Union every year through Libya. They’re looking to escape poverty, war and terrorism. Many die making the hazardous Mediterranean crossing on poorly built boats or pay human traffickers thousands of dollars only to be abandoned at sea.

Libya has been in turmoil for years and migrants living there or passing through say they are subject to a range of abuses.

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