Migrants from Africa and the Middle East, who take the perilous journey across the Mediterranean in small, crowded boats to find a better life in Europe, are facing another danger: religious conflict.
Italian police have arrested 15 Muslim migrants after they allegedly threw 12 Christians overboard following an argument on a boat heading to Italy, BBC News reported.
The Christian migrants, said to be from Ghana and Nigeria, are all feared dead, the broadcaster said.
The 15 Muslim migrants involved in the row with Christians were arrested in the Sicilian city of Palermo and charged with “multiple aggravated murder motivated by religious hate”.
The suspects, who are from the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali and Guinea, were among 105 migrants traveling in an inflatable boat that left Libya on Tuesday, the report said.
Eyewitnesses told police how an argument aboard the boat resulted in Christians being thrown overboard, and that some of the survivors had formed human chains to avoid a similar fate.
Meanwhile, more than 40 people drowned after another migrant boat sank between Libya and Italy, the BBC said.
Almost 10,000 migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean have been rescued in recent days. The journey is at least 500 kilometers (300 miles).
Italy has called for more help from the European Union to handle the crisis.
More than 500 have died since the start of the year. Earlier this week, 400 people were believed to have drowned when their boat capsized.
Also on Thursday, the Italian navy rescued four survivors – a Ghanaian, two Nigerians, and a man from Niger – after their boat with 45 people on board sank.
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