Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Libyan naval patrol opens fire on Italian fishing boat

According to official reports from the Italian coastguard, Libyan naval patrol opened fire on an Italian fishing boat close to the Libyan coast. The Libyan motor boat was one of six recently gifted to Tripoli by Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, to help Libya curtail migrants leaving North African shores for Italy.

The Italian fishing boat, on board with 10 fishermen, was fired on from the Libyan naval patrol about 30 miles off the Libyan coast on Sunday, 12th September. None of the fishermen were injured.

During the time of the incident an Italian official was on board the Libyan boat as an observer working together with his Libyan counterparts in the fight against illegal immigration to Italy. Little else is known about the incident, but the news comes shortly after Libya's decision to release 13 fishermen, from Borg al-Megeizal village, after months of detention.

The boat and its crew were taken in to custody after strong winds forced the boat off course and in to Libyan waters. Libyan authorities arrested the boat's crew and sentenced the 15 fishermen on board to six months in prison, 13 of whom were released on Saturday, 11th September, while the remaining two were detained indefinitely.

Source: Reuters, Al Masry Al Youm

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

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