had died after being thrown overboard by fellow passengers in the
latest high-seas tragedy in the Mediterranean, as another 41 boat migrants were feared drowned in a separate incident.
Police in the Sicilian port of Palermo said they had arrested 15 Muslim migrants
suspected of attacking Christian passengers after a religious row on a
boat headed for Italy, which is
struggling to cope with a huge spike in
illegal migrants arriving on its shores.
The 12 victims were all Nigerians and Ghanaians while the 15 suspects came from Senegal, Mali and Ivory Coast. They were charged with “multiple aggravated murder motivated by religious hate,” according to a police statement.
Distraught survivors, who set off from Libya on Tuesday before being
rescued by an Italian vessel on Wednesday, told a “dreadful” story of
“forcefully resisting attempts to drown them, forming a veritable human
chain in some cases,” police said.
Nigerian and Ghanaian survivors told police a group of Muslim passengers
on the boat, which was carrying around 100 people, began threatening
the Nigerians and Ghanaians after they declared themselves to be
Christians. “The threats then materialised and 12 people, all Nigerian
and Ghanaian, are believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean,” the
police statement added
In another drama, 41 migrants were missing feared drowned on after their
dinghy sank en route to Italy, the International Organization for
Migration (IOM) said, mere days after 400 migrants are believed to have died in another shipwreck off the coast of Libya.
The four survivors in Thursday’s shipwreck, who came from Nigeria, Ghana
and Niger, said their boat sank after setting sail from Libya with 45
people on board.
Their vessel was spotted by a plane, which alerted the Italian
coastguard, but by the time a navy ship arrived to help them only four
passengers were found alive.