Three people have been arrested in Libya on suspicion of involvement in the capsizing of a refugee boat through Zuwara, the Libyan coast town.
There were 400 refugees from sub-Saharan Africa, Pakistan, Syria, Morocco and Bangladesh in the boat that capsized on Thursday. 111 people have been found dead and 198 others have been rescued. Dozens more are still missing, almost all presumed to be dead.
A security official said the suspects are in their 20s and added ”We think that more are involved which we are still chasing."
Zuwara is used a lot by people smugglers due to its proximity to the Italian island of Lampedusa and the political turmoil in the region. Western and most Arab countries recognise only the eastern based government of Libya, which doesn’t have control over the western coasts.
Libya has turned into a transit route for refugees fleeing conflict and poverty to make it to Europe. Cross-border smuggler networks exploit the country's turmoil and chaos to bring Syrians into Libya via Egypt or nationals of sub-Saharan countries via Niger, Sudan and Chad.
Until Aug. 24, 2,373 people have died this year in the attempts to reach Europe by boat, compared to 2,081 in the same period last year, according to the International Organisation for Migration.