A boat carrying migrants attempting to reach Sicily from Tunisia. Credit: EPA/JOSE SENA GOULAO
A boat carrying migrants attempting to reach Sicily from Tunisia. Credit: EPA/JOSE SENA GOULAO

Tunisian authorities said they have arrested the owner of a boat factory that was making boats used for illegal migrant journeys in the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, various people have been blocked in recent days in their attempts to reach Europe by sea from Tunisia.

Tunisian law enforcement authorities said they have arrested Bhar Lazrag in La Marsa. Lazrag is the owner of a shipbuilding factory where boats were being built for illegal migrant journeys. The news was reported by the Tunisian Interior Ministry, which said the operation was conducted by the Coast Guard in coordination with the country's National Guard anti-terrorism brigade. 


During the interrogation, Lazrag defended himself by saying that his shipbuilding factory has the authorization to build leisure boats. However, in the statement, it said that he admitted to illegally selling a boat. Another three unregistered boats that were awaiting purchase were sequestered in the factory by authorities.

 Arrests for attempted emigration to Italy 

In recent days, Tunisian authorities have blocked some attempts for illegal boat departures from the country, heading for Italian coasts. On August 14, the Tunisian National Guard foiled an illegal emigration operation in Nabeul to the Italian coasts, arresting six men and one woman whose ages were between 18 and 43. The Tunisian Interior Ministry said in a statement that three of the journey's organizers were among those arrested, some of whom have criminal records. The public prosecutor issued a preventative detention order for those three, while the others were granted conditional release while the investigation moves forward. 

Nine extremists headed for Italy stopped 

The spokesman for the Tunisian National Guard, Houssem Jebabli, said that in the first six months of the year there were 2,659 people stopped as they attempted to reach Italian coasts. In the same period last year that number was 564. On August 13, Tunisian law enforcement authorities arrested 15 people in Biserta between the ages of 21 and 39 as they were about to board a rubber dinghy in an attempt to illegally reach Italian coasts. Among them were nine Islamic extremists. Jebabli told local radio "Mosaique FM" that the nine who were stopped "were not planning terrorist attacks against Italy" but "wanted to flee Tunisia in the search for a better life, like the rest of the migrants". 
 

More articles