Mediterranean rescue boat attacked in armed raid off Libya

MSF rescue boat crew unharmed after unidentified armed groups shoot at and raid vessel in southern Mediterranean.

An unidentified armed group shot at and raided a European rescue boat off the coast of Libya, the Guardian reports.

According to the report an unidentified speedboat fired a number of shots at the Bourbon Argos, a rescue boat chartered by the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), on 17th August. The team reportedly managed to take cover in the ship’s safe room when armed men boarded the vessel, but they were unable to reach the crew. The report added that given that they hadn’t taken anything or anyone in the attack, the reason for the raid remained obscure.

MSF operations coordinator Stefano Argenziano added however that the shooters seemed to be aiming to kill the crew members rather than firing warning shots.

“MSF believes that the intruders aimed to physically harm the Bourbon Argos’s staff but thanks to the sound security procedures enacted, all team members were safe. Nothing was taken during the incident and the damage to the ship was only minimal,” a statement by the charity reads.

MSF has rescued over 25,000 refugees from the Mediterranean over the past two years, and it currently has three vessels patrolling off the coast of Libya. Their mission was launched after MSF’s emergency team took part in rescue missions on-board the Phoenix, operated by Malta based Migrants Offshore Aid Station operated.

Some 3,100 refugees are believed to have drowned crossing from Libya to Italy so far this year. The Mediterranean is currently hosting a number of rescue missions by various European navies, MSF, Save the Children and the aforementioned MOAS among others.

The Guardian added that Moas and MSF had confirmed that their missions would go ahead as planned while both groups assessed the security situation, but the incidents are believed to be the first of their kind. MSF added that it was still assessing who might have been behind the raid, and analysts agreed it was hard to pinpoint who was responsible, given the complexity of Libya’s civil war.