Boats carrying near 300 migrants intercepted off Libya

CAIRO - Libya's coast guard says it has intercepted 299 African migrants, including 40 women and 19 children, on two rubber boats in the Mediterranean Sea east of the capital, Tripoli.

Spokesman Ayoub Gassim said Wednesday the migrants were rescued a day earlier near the Libyan town of Zliten and were taken to Tripoli port. He didn't provide information on any fatalities.

Libya has become one of the main migrant transit points to Europe as traffickers exploit the chaos there following the 2011 uprising that toppled and later killed a longtime dictator.

Libyan authorities have recently stepped up efforts to stem the flow of migrants to Europe.

The U.N. migration agency says more than 149,000 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea since the start of 2017, less than half the figure from the previous year.


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