Indonesia says Australia forced asylum seekers back to sea
JAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesia says Australian officials destroyed a boat carrying asylum seekers and then pushed them back out to sea in another vessel.
Foreign Office chief of multilateral affairs Hasan Kleib expressed concern Friday that Australia took the action unilaterally without informing or working with Indonesia.
Sixteen migrants from India, Nepal and Bangladesh and their Indonesian skipper were found stranded in Indonesia's part of Timor Island on Thursday.
The migrants reportedly said Australian officials destroyed the boat that carried them to the Australian territory of Christmas Island and then pushed them back out to sea in a new boat.
Australian Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton refused to comment, maintaining a government policy of secrecy surrounding people smuggling operations.
Indonesia's many islands are a popular transit point for people fleeing war-ravaged countries on their way to Australia.
Associated Press writer Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, contributed to this report.