Alexa

Italy tracking 'zig-zagging' tug seized by Libya

Italy tracking 'zig-zagging' tug seized by Libya

Italy said Monday it was tracking the "zigzagging" path of an Italian-owned tugboat occupied by armed Libyan miltiary officers at the start of U.S. and European airstrikes on Libya.
Defense Minister Ignazio LaRussa said the crew of the Asso 22 _ eight Italians, two Indians and a Ukrainian _ remained aboard but that it wasn't clear where the vessel was headed.
The ship owner, Naples-based Augusta Offshore SrL, said Tripoli port officials boarded the vessel Friday and Saturday after it docked, asking to photograph its equipment, and that armed Libyan military officers boarded Sunday. The vessel then left port, heading west.
The tug, rented by Italian energy giant Eni, normally services oil platforms off the Libyan coast.
It wasn't clear if the seizure amounted to Libyan retaliation for Italy's participation in enforcing the U.N.-mandated no-fly zone over Libya.
Italy, Libya's former colonial ruler, has allowed seven bases to be used by coalition aircraft and has also offered eight of its own jets for use in missions. On Sunday night, six Italian Tornados took out Libyan air defense systems using AGM-88 HARM missiles, the Italian military said in a statement.
Italy has said it fully supports the mission _ but that it expects Europe to support Italy as it copes with a side-effect of the popular revolts in the region: thousands of illegal immigrants, mostly Tunisians, arriving in Italian waters.
On Monday, the ANSA news agency reported that 191 Libyans had arrived in Catania, Sicily, which, if confirmed, would mark the first major influx from that country since the revolt began over a month ago.
But Catania police, carabinieri, port officials and financial police all refused to confirm the report, saying they only knew of 74 Egyptians who had arrived.
The tiny island of Lampedusa, which is closer to the African continent than Italian mainland, has been overwhelmed by the influx, with 4,789 immigrants on the island Monday compared to a population of about 5,000, ANSA said.
The government has proposed creating a tent city for them on the island, but the mayor and residents are fiercely opposed, insisting they be resettled elsewhere until asylum applications are dealt with.
The Interior Ministry hasn't provided updated numbers, but with the 6,000 arrivals reported as of March 2, it would appear that the total has surpassed 10,000 since mid-January when the revolts in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya began.


Updated : 2021-04-17 11:36 GMT+08:00