RABAT, Morocco – The Latest on the influx of migrants to Europe (all times local):
One of five countries taking in the 58 migrants saved on the rescue ship Aquarius 2 will also get a dog — large, white and named Bella.
France, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Malta will take in migrants who stand apart from most sailing from Libya in smugglers’ boats. The 58 are mainly Libyans, many from comfortable backgrounds, according to French newspaper Le Monde, which has a reporter on board. One of the migrants brought her dog.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Tuesday that 17 women and numerous small children will disembark from the Aquarius 2, off Malta. The ship — whose flag was pulled by Panama — then docks in Marseille.
Libya’s coast guard says it has intercepted about 350 Europe-bound migrants, including women and children, off the Mediterranean coast in the past few days.
Spokesman Ayoub Gassim says Wednesday three boats carrying 235 passengers including 20 women and two children were stopped Sunday off the coast of the western towns of Khoms and Zuwara.
He says another boat carrying 116 passengers including 12 women and a child was stopped Monday off the coast of Zuwara.
Gassim says all migrants were given humanitarian and medical aid, and were taken to a refugee camps.
Libya has emerged as a major transit point to Europe for those fleeing poverty and civil war elsewhere in Africa and Middle East. Traffickers have exploited Libya’s chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled and later killed longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi.
A rights group says a 22-year-old woman was killed after Morocco’s Royal Navy opened fire on a boat suspected of carrying migrants.
The head of Morocco’s Northern Observatory for Human Rights said three other migrants were also wounded in Tuesday’s incident.
Mohamed Benaïssa told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the victim, who studied law, “died before reaching the hospital.”
The boat was carrying 25 Moroccan nationals and two Spanish captains, now in army custody. Morocco’s Interior Ministry said the boat was illegally transporting migrants.
It was the second time in recent days that Morocco’s Royal Navy intervened to stop a boat suspected of carrying migrants across the Mediterranean, and comes amid growing concerns about migrant trafficking in the western Mediterranean region.