A tanker that was hijacked by migrants off Libya yesterday docked in Malta after the Maltese armed forces took control of the vessel.
Palau-flagged tanker Elhiblu I had picked up the 108 migrants, including women and children, on Tuesday evening and then headed back to Tripoli, but 6 nautical miles (11km) from port the ship suddenly changed course and headed north toward Europe.
Italian Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini on Wednesday said that the vessel had been hijacked and vowed that the migrants would not be allowed to disembark in Italy.
The 52m tanker was about 30 nautical miles from Malta when the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) established communications with the captain.
“The captain repeatedly stated that he was not in control of the vessel, and that he and his crew were being forced and threatened by a number of migrants to proceed to Malta,” the AFM said in a statement yesterday morning. “AFM Patrol Vessel P21 stopped the tanker from entering the Maltese territorial waters. An AFM Special Operations Unit team was dispatched to board and secure the vessel in order to hand over control of the ship to the captain.”
It said the team was backed up by several naval vessels and a helicopter.
Escorted by the Maltese Navy, the tanker arrived in the port of Valetta at about 8:30am, where the AFM said it would “be handed over to the police for further investigations.”
The German charity Sea-Eye, whose ship Alan Kurdi was in the rescue zone off Libya, said it had overheard radio messages between a European military aircraft and the captain of the tanker, both before and after the hijacking.
“The captain of the ship rescued the people and requested assistance. He said unequivocally on the radio that people are very upset and do not want to be brought back to Libya,” Sea-Eye said in a statement. “Tripoli, however, was the destination port of the cargo ship.”
Migrants in chaos-wracked Libya face trafficking, kidnap, torture and rape, according to the UN and aid groups.
Following Rome’s increasingly tough anti-migrant stance, vessels that pick up migrants making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean increasingly return them to Libya.
Boatloads of rescued migrants have refused to disembark in Libya, prompting the authorities there to use force.
The EU on Wednesday said that it would suspend ship patrols that have rescued tens of thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea and taken them to Italy, in the face of deep resistance from Rome’s populist government.
Migrant arrivals from North Africa and the Middle East have been sharply reduced since a 2015 peak when Europe faced its worst migration crisis since World War II.
India has moved additional troops along its northern border as it prepares for an extended conflict with China, after several rounds of talks failed to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals. China has already placed about 5,000 soldiers and armored vehicles within its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh region, an Indian government official said, asking not to be identified, citing rules. India is adding a similar number of troops as well as artillery guns along the border to fend off the continuing incursions by the Chinese army, the official said. The standoff began on May 5, when troops clashed
CLOSELY TRACKED: A US officer said that the warplanes were watched as they flew from Russia by way of Iran and Syria to Libya and were photographed multiple times The US Africa Command flatly rejected Russian claims that Moscow did not deploy fighter jets to Libya, saying on Friday that the 14 aircraft flown in reflect Russia’s long-term goal to establish a foothold in the region that could threaten NATO allies. US Brigadier General Gregory Hadfield, deputy director of intelligence, said that the US tracked the MiG-29s and Su-24 fighter bombers flown in by Russian military, passing through Iran and Syria before landing at Libya’s al-Jufra air base. The base is the main forward airfield for Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army, which has been waging an
Singapore’s otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the COVID-19 lockdown, but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a shopping center, scampering through the lobby of a hospital and even feasting on pricey fish stolen from a pond. While many think of tiny Singapore as a densely populated concrete jungle, it is also relatively green for a busy Asian city, and has patches of rainforest, fairly clean waterways and abundant wildlife. There are estimated to be about
Indonesian officials are forcing people who break social distancing rules to recite Koran verses, stay in “haunted” houses and submit to public shaming on social media as the country battles to contain surging novel coronavirus infections. The Southeast Asian archipelago began deploying about 340,000 troops across two dozen cities to oversee enforcement of measures aimed at halting transmission of the disease, such as wearing masks in public. However, provincial leaders are buttressing these efforts with their own zealous campaigns to fight the coronavirus. Police in western Bengkulu Province have assembled a 40-person squad to find lockdown scofflaws and force them to wear