The Italian police have arrested 15 Muslim refugees from war-torn Libya on charges they murdered Christian passengers on their escape boat by throwing them overboard.
“The original group of 105 people left Libya on Tuesday in a rubber boat,” reports CNN, relaying statements from Italian authorities. “Sometime during the trip north across the Mediterranean Sea, the alleged assailants – Muslims from the Ivory Coast, Mali and Senegal – threw the 12 [Christians] overboard.”
The rubber boat was subsequently intercepted by the Italian navy, which put the passengers aboard a Panamanian-flagged ship bound for Palermo. The alleged murderers were arrested after the ship docked.
A report from the UK Daily Mail suggests both the victims and attackers were adult males. “During the crossing, a fight broke out over religion, with the group of Muslim passengers threatening the Nigerians and Ghanaians after the latter declared themselves to be Christians,” according to the account given by surviving Nigerian and Ghanaian passengers to the police. The BBC explains these survivors were able to avoid a similar fate by forming human chains.
Only a few days ago, 400 refuges were presumed killed after another ship sank off the Libyan coast. Italy has asked the European Union for help dealing with the refugee crisis and the urgent need for more search-and-rescue resources. The Italians complain there has been no “adequate response from the EU,” while a European Commission spokeswoman cautioned them not to expect any “silver bullet” solutions.