Tunisian authorities detain 155 migrants and refugees of different African nationalities after thwarting five illegal crossings off the coast of Sfax, state news agency reports.
Tunisia has retrieved three bodies of migrants and refugees, and detained another 155 with different African nationalities after thwarting five illegal crossings off the coast of Sfax, the state news agency reported.
The report on Sunday also said that 76 migrants were rescued in two accidents off the coast of the Tunisian town of Mahdia.
Earlier, Tunisian authorities recovered the bodies of 17 migrants after four boats trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea heading for Europe capsized, a court official said.
The majority of those who attempted the latest deadly crossing were sub-Saharan Africans, including citizens of Ivory Coast, Mali and Somalia, he added.
READ MORE: Dozen dead, many missing as refugee boats sink off Tunisia
Tunisia and neighbouring Libya are key departure points for migrants and refugees seeking to reach European shores, often in vessels that are barely seaworthy.
The Italian island of Lampedusa is only about 130 kilometres from Tunisia's coast.
Libyan authorities on Sunday arrested 542 would-be migrants preparing to depart for Europe in inflatable boats, a security source said.
An AFP photographer said most were originally from Bangladesh.
The International Organization for Migration has said that nearly 2,000 migrants drowned or went missing in the Mediterranean in 2021, compared to 1,401 the previous year.
READ MORE: Refugees trying to reach Europe drown, bodies found off Tunisia coast