8 bodies found after Tunisia police, migrants clash on boat

Eight bodies have been recovered off Tunisia since security forces clashed with a group of migrants on a boat crossing illegally to Italy, a security official said on Sunday.

National Guard spokesperson Colonel Houssemeddine Jebabli told AFP that eight bodies had been found since Friday's incident but their nationalities had not yet been determined and a search would continue.

The police had intervened to stop the boat that had been launched off the central city of Sfax.

People on the vessel had thrown Molotov cocktails at security forces before setting fire to the boat and attempting to flee, according to Jebabli.

Four Tunisians were arrested along with eight migrants from the Ivory Coast and two from Congo, he said, adding that one of them was hospitalised for burns.

A first body was recovered the same day.

A growing number of Tunisians are embarking on risky journeys across the Mediterranean to seek work and a better life in Europe.

In the first half of 2018, nearly 2 660 people were arrested in Tunisia during attempts to make the sea crossing, Jebabli said, compared with just 564 over the same period the previous year.

Several deadly shipwrecks have taken place in recent months, including one on June 3 that killed 87 people.

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