262 illegal immigrants rescued off Tunisia

Tunisian authorities rescued 262 illegal immigrants of different nationalities in two different operations, according to a statement released by the Defence Ministry.

“A rescue operation took place this afternoon off the coastal city of Sfax in southeastern Tunisia, when a unit of the naval guard managed to rescue 158 illegal immigrants from a sinking boat sailing to the Italian coasts,” Xinhua news agency quoted the Ministry statement issued on friday night as saying.

The group of illegal immigrants includes two infants, according to the statement.

In a second operation earlier in the day, the Tunisian naval guard rescued 104 illegal immigrants of Tunisian, Moroccan, Sudanese, Egyptian and Ghanaian nationalities, also off the coastal city of Sfax.

The rescued migrants have said they sailed off on Tuesday night from Libya towards the Italian coast.

Tunisia has experienced an upsurge in immigration since the Libyan crisis started in early 2011, after which nearly 350,000 fled Libya via the Tunisian border in the course of a few months, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).