Maritime authorities say the Libyan ship endangered the lives of migrants while hunting in the Mediterranean Sea.
Libyan maritime authorities have acknowledged that a Libyan coastguard ship has issued warning shots on a migrant boat sailing in the Mediterranean, in an apparent effort to prevent its crossing into Europe.
The Libyan navy issued a statement late Thursday condemning “any act that violates local and international norms and laws” and is committed to holding those responsible accountable. He added that the Libyan ship had endangered the lives of migrants during the hunt.
Thursday, the German non-governmental group Sea-Watch has released footage filmed from an airplane showing the Libyan coast guard flying at high speed a blue wooden boat with a small engine and at least two dozen people on board.
During the hunt, which took place in international waters in Malta’s search and rescue area, men in uniform aboard the Libyan ship could be seen firing at least twice towards the boat, with bullets hitting the nearby water.
The Libyan coast guard was close to being shot several times in the boat.
‘Ask for explanations’
On Friday, European Commission spokesman Peter Stano deplored the incident as “a cause for concern”, adding that the commission had already asked the Libyan government for explanations.
“We have verified the facts and circumstances behind that event and will certainly follow this very closely and ask for explanations but also to make an inquiry into what happened,” Stano said.
The EU trains, equips and supports the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept people seeking to cross the Central Mediterranean towards Europe. At least 723 people are known to be both dead and missing taking this road on non-navigable boats so far this year.
Nearly 15,000 men, women and children have been intercepted by the Libyan coast guard and are back on the Libyan coast from the beginning of the year until June 26 – a record number.
The Libyan navy also promised in the statement to “pursue its duties to save lives at sea and safeguard the Libyan coast, in accordance with local and international laws and humanitarian standards.”