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People-smuggling bid thwarted by Lebanese authorities

People-smuggling bid thwarted by Lebanese authorities

SIDON, Lebanon: Seven Lebanese and Arab nationals have been arrested after authorities raided a boat off the coast of Sidon that was allegedly headed to Italy, where its passengers intended to migrate illegally, the Army said in a statement.

The incident came just two weeks after at least 26 Lebanese died when their boat foundered off the Indonesian coast on its way to Australia.

“A Navy patrol intercepted a Lebanese boat [a few kilometres] off the Zahrani shore carrying two Lebanese, two Syrians and three Palestinians attempting to illegally migrate,” said an Army statement. Contrary to some news reports, the Army did not assert that the detainees were members of an organised smuggling network.

The statement said the boat was seized and that Military Police interrogated the detainees under the supervision of the relevant judicial authorities. Security sources, however, put the number of arrests at 13.