Security units in Tunisia arrested, during the past 24 hours, 1,200 of different nationalities who planned to cross illegally the Mediterranean to Europe.
“The arrest operations were carried out by National Guard units during a security campaign in the southeastern province of Sfax to stop the illegal immigration waves,” Mosaique FM quoted Houcemeddine Jbabli, spokesman for the Tunisian National Guard, as saying.
He added that the security units also arrested a number of organizers of the trips across the sea and seized wooden boats.
The security campaign carried out on Saturday on the island of Kerkennah in Sfax province, witnessed an aerial operation with the participation of many special security units and rapid intervention teams.
They carried out the campaign against the backdrop of the coast of the province becoming a major starting point for illegal immigrants as they tried to sneak into the Italian island of Lampedusa.
Additionally, the island of Lampedusa, the usual first stop by illegal immigrants in their sea voyage to Italy, is only about 80 kilometres from the Tunisian coasts.
In July, Tunisia removed hundreds of sub-Saharan African migrants to a desolate area along the border with Libya, a local rights group and a lawmaker said on Wednesday, with witnesses reporting dozens more put on outbound trains following days of violence.
Thousands of undocumented African migrants flock to Sfax with the goal of setting off for Europe in boats run by human traffickers; it amounted to an unprecedented migration crisis for the North African country.