BALI, Indonesia – Indonesian authorities say they have intercepted a wooden boat carrying 96 Middle Eastern asylum seekers who were trying to reach Australia.
Local maritime police chief Lt. Col. Tubuh Musyareh says the fishing boat was stopped Sunday off Benoa port on Bali island. Two Indonesian crewmembers were detained on people-smuggling charges.
Musyareh says most had no proper travel documents and told police they wanted to go to Australia. Many initially refused to leave the boat, but eventually agreed after an all-day standoff and are being held pending an investigation by immigration authorities.
Indonesia has become a major transit point for people fleeing war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Sri Lanka.