Tunisian authorities stopped a group of migrants who were allegedly trying to reach Italy illegally over the weekend. They arrested the four alleged organizers, who are being investigated for "forming an organised crime group aimed at illegally leaving the maritime border."
Tunisian authorities arrested 24 people from various sub-Saharan African countries in a house on the road to Sidi Mansour, north of Sfax, on Saturday. The people are accused of being in the process of illegally leaving Tunisia to reach Italian shores, according to in a statement by the Tunisian interior ministry. The authorities said they had identified the four organizers of the trip among the group, who are all between the ages of 25 and 41.
Suspected organisers stopped
The public prosecutor confirmed that that alleged organizers had been arrested and that an investigation into "forming an organised crime group aimed at illegally leaving the maritime border" had been opened.
The other 20 people were released, but are under investigation for "illegal residence in Tunisia."
In another operation, in Mahdia, the
Tunisian Coast Guard stopped five Tunisians with the same charges, aboard a
vehicle that was reportedly getting ready to reach the house where the others were set to
depart. The prosecutor said the officers had seized the vehicle and had also found and
seized cash in the amounts of 14,000 Tunisian dinars and 5,700 euros.
Tunisian Coast Guard rescues seven off Cap Bon
Another Tunisian Coast Guard unit reportedly rescued seven migrants aboard a struggling boat 45 kilometers north of El Haouria, in Cap Bon, on Sunday at sunrise. This was made public by the Tunisian Defence Ministry in a statement to TAP news agency. It said that among the people arrested were both Tunesian citizens and non-Tunesians. They were between the ages of 23 and 40 years old. They were allegedly trying to illegally reach the Italian coast. They were taken to the port of Goulette in Tunis and handed over to the National Guard.