More than 900 rescued off Libya

The Libyan coastguard said that one of the rubber boats was holed and on the point of sinking

The Libyan coastguard has rescued more than 900 African and Asian migrants attempting to reach Europe, AFP quotes a navy spokesman as saying on Saturday.

"A coastguard patrol from Zawiya (west of Tripoli) intercepted five inflatable boats and a wooden vessel carrying 906 migrants at dawn on Friday," General Ayoub Qassem said, AFP reports.

According to the report, the groups included 25 children and 98 women. Seven of the women were pregnant.

"One of the rubber boats was holed and on the point of sinking, while the wooden one did not have a motor," the General said.

People traffickers have exploited the chaos in Libya since a 2011 uprising toppled and killed strongman Muammar Gaddafi to boost their lucrative but deadly trade.

The figures emerge as human rights agencies continue to express concern over the migrant situation in Libya. Notably, the United Nations migration agency this week expressed deep concern for hundreds of Somali and Ethiopian migrants, allegedly held and mistreated by criminal gangs in Libya.

The agency said some captives’ relatives had received videos asking them to pay $8,000 to $10,000 “or their child or relative will be killed”. The captives’ exact location was not known, but the International Organisation for Migration said the relevant authorities had been informed.

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