Under pressure from Italy and other European states, Libya's coastguard has become increasingly active, patrolling more widely and intercepting migrants before they can reach international rescue vessels.

The boats were spotted in waters east of Tripoli. The migrants will now be sent to a detention centre in Tajoura, a suburb of the Libyan capital.
The boats were spotted in waters east of Tripoli. The migrants will now be sent to a detention centre in Tajoura, a suburb of the Libyan capital. (Reuters)

The Libyan coast guard has intercepted two boats carrying hundreds of people from sub-Saharan Africa trying to reach Europe on Tuesday near the town of Zilten.

Libya's western shoreline is the main departure point for migrants trying to reach Europe by boat, many of them fleeing conflict or poverty.

Crossings have dropped sharply since July, when an armed group in the smuggling hub of Sabratha began blocking departures.

Nearly 300 people were packed in two small rubber boats. In the early hours of Tuesday morning Libya's coastguard intercepted the 299 migrants who were sitting on the ground of the dock.

"Around 300 illegal migrants were rescued. Right now they're being identified and lists with their names, nationalities, and ages are being prepared so we can confirm their numbers, before they're sent to illegal migration detention centres," coast guard official Ali al-Shebrak said.

TRT World’s Kerry Alexandra has more on the story.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies