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Libyan coast guard intercepts more than 900 migrants

Refugees are seen after being rescued from the Mediterranean Sea on 15 June 2017 [Marcus Drinkwater/Anadolu Agency]
Libyan Coast Guards rescue refugees in Mediterranean Sea on 15 June 2017 [Marcus Drinkwater/Anadolu Agency]

Libya's coast guard intercepted 906 migrants off the western city of Sabratha on Friday, a spokesman said.

The migrants were on board several wooden and rubber boats, coast guard spokesman Ayoub Qassem said. One of the rubber boats was perforated and nearly submerged, and a wooden boat had its engine missing, he said.

The migrants were African, Asian and Arab, and included 98 women and 25 children, Qassem said.

Libya has been in turmoil for years and is the most common departure point for migrants trying to reach Europe by sea. More than 60,000 migrants have crossed the central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy so far this year.

Smugglers pack the migrants onto ill-equipped boats that usually get picked up by European rescue vessels once they reach international waters.

However, some sink or become stranded when smugglers remove the engines for reuse, and some get turned back by the Libyan coast guard.

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