WATCH: Libyan Coast Guard accused of firing warning shots at a ship rescuing migrants in the Med

Libyan Coast Guard accused of firing warning shots at a ship rescuing migrants in the Med

Image of the vessels in the Mediterranean Sea. Credit: Twitter@SOSMedIntl

A humanitarian organisation has accused a Libyan Coast Guard vessel of firing warning shots at its ship as it attempted to go to the rescue of migrants in a rubber boat.

The Libyan Coast Guard has been accused of firing warning shots at a humanitarian ship as it tried to rescue a rubber boat carrying migrants off the coast of Libya.

According to the SOS Mediterranee group, the incident occurred in international waters on Saturday, March 25. It has accused the Libyan Coast Guard of being trained and funded by the European Union to curb the influx of migrants to Europe.

In a tweet, they wrote: “This morning, @SOSMedIntl crew was threatened by guns by the EU-sponsored Libyan coastguard: #OceanViking was alerted to a rubber boat in distress in intl. waters off Libya by @alarm_phone. Patrol vessel 656 approached dangerously close, threatening the crew & shooting in the air”.

As the Ocean Viking rescue vessel – chartered and operated by the non-profit organization SOS Mediterranee – was responding to a distress call to help a rubber boat carrying migrants in the Mediterranean, a Libyan Coast Guard vessel reportedly arrived on the scene.

The Coast Guard vessel reportedly approached the rescue ship ‘dangerously’, threatening its crew by: “pointing their weapons and firing into the air”, SOS Mediterranee claimed in a press release.

When the Ocean Viking sailed away, the Libyan Coast Guard intercepted the ship and allegedly ‘forced’ the boatload of around 80 migrants to turn back to war-torn Libya, the organisation said.

Seabird 2, a civilian reconnaissance aircraft owned by the German NGO Sea-Watch, said that it saw migrants fall overboard from a rubber boat before the Coast Guard found them. People on board the plane also claimed that the Coast Guard fired into the water where the people were.

It tweeted: “Today we witnessed the attack on the crew of @SOSMedIntl and people in a boat in distress. After a distress call from @alarm_phone, our search plane Seabird, Ocean Viking, and a ship of the so-called Libyan Coast Guard were on the scene”.

In recent years, Libya has become a major transit point for migrants seeking a better life in Europe. The oil-rich country was plunged into chaos after the overthrow and subsequent assassination of state leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Some businessmen are accused of capitalising on the chaos in Libya by ferrying migrants across borders with six neighbouring countries. Migrants are put into poorly equipped rubber boats or other vessels and sent on perilous sea voyages.


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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at