Four dead as Libya coastguard clashes with suspected migrant smugglers

Libya coastguard

Four suspected migrant smugglers were killed in an exchange of fire with coastguards off Libya’s western coast on Thursday, coastguard spokesman Ayoub Qasem said.

Qasem said a German journalist travelling in the coastguard boat was also injured in the clash, which he said had started when the coastguards tried to apprehend heavily armed gunmen guarding a migrant boat.

Two of the suspected smugglers were arrested and one was missing, Qasem said.       

In a separate development, some 1,350 migrants were rescued and one body was found during an operation on the central Mediterranean route from North Africa to Europe, the Italian coastguard said on Thursday.

The migrants were rescued from a big boat, 12 smaller vessels and five rubber dinghies.

The body was found in one of the dinghies.

The coastguard, a merchant marine ship, and two sea rescue Non Governmental Organisations, Sea Watch and Proactiva Open Arms – participated in 12 operations to rescue the migrants.

The International Organisation for Migration said that so far this year, 663 people had died in the Mediterranean why trying to reach Europe by sea.