Middle East

Libyan coast guard takes 300 rescued migrants into custody

The Libyan coast guard has taken 300 migrants who were trying to reach Europe illegally by boat into custody, following an altercation with a volunteer rescue vessel.

Ayoub Gassim, the spokesman for Libya's navy that is loyal to the EU-backed Tripoli government, says the coast guard rescued the migrants in Libyan territorial waters on Wednesday.

He says the volunteer rescue boat was infringing on Libya's sovereignty by insisting on rescuing them.

The Sea-Watch project, a non-profit that has been rescuing migrants at sea since 2015, accused the Libyan navy in a statement of endangering its crew and the migrants by carrying out an illegal repatriation while the boat was in international waters.

Chaotic Libya has become a major avenue of migration, with thousands braving the dangerous sea crossing to Europe.