Libyan Maritime Officials have now confirmed, that a Libyan Coast Guard vessel had fired warning shots at the boat which capsized on 30th June, killing at-least seven migrant, including a pregnant woman.
Sea-Watch, an NGO based on Germany released a video footage, which was shot from a plane, filming a Libyan Coast Guard vessel chasing a blue wooden boat, with a small engine at high speed. The boat had more than two dozen of people onboard.
Sea-Watch’s Head of Airborne Operations, Felix Weiss, said, “It’s becoming just way more dangerous. When people are crossing the Maltese search and rescue area, they have been on the water for at least 1.5, 2 days. So they are exhausted, they are dehydrated. So these maneuvers that we have seen yesterday could easily kill a person, like easily. It’s just really wondering, everyone of us, how no one has died yesterday”.
In the footage, which was reportedly shot at the international waters in the search and rescue responsibility zone of Malta, showed uniformed men onboard the Libyan vessel firing at least twice towards the boat, with the bullets hitting the waters nearby. The Libyan Coast Guard vessel came close to crashing into the wooden boat in several occasions.
After the incident, the Libyan navy, on Thursday, issued a statement condemning the act. It conveyed, that the Libyan vessel had endangered the lives of migrants during the chase, vowing to hold those responsible to account.
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The European Union (EU) commission, which trains, equips and supports the Libyan Coast guard in intercepting migrants trying to flee the Central Mediterranean to Europe, also deplored the incident as ‘a cause of concern.’ The commission has also asked for an explanation about the horrific act from the Libyan government.
In 2021, more than 723 people have either died, or went missing in this route, onboard unseaworthy boats, till now. The Libyan Coast Guard, have successfully intercepted more than 15,000 people, and returned them to the Libyan shores from the start of this year, till 26th June. Which is a record number, in the recent history.