Libya intercepts nearly 200 Europe-bound migrants at sea

File photo of migrants arrive at a naval base after they were rescued by the Libyan coastal guard in Tripoli, Libya.

:: Libya’s coast guard says it has intercepted Europe-bound vessels carrying nearly 200 migrants, including women, off the country’s Mediterranean coast.

Spokesman Ayoub Gassim said on Saturday that five rubber boats carrying 199 migrants were intercepted over the past several days near the capital, Tripoli.

He says the coast guard intercepted 39 migrants on Wednesday in two boats, another boat with 17 migrants on Thursday and two more with 143 migrants on Friday.

All were Africans, except eight from Bangladesh.

They were given humanitarian and medical aid, then taken to refugee camps in Tripoli.

Libya became a major conduit for African migrants and refugees fleeing to Europe after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted and killed longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi.

Libyan authorities have stepped up efforts to stem the flow of migrants, with European assistance.

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