2,000 Med Migrants Rescued

2,000 Med Migrants Rescued2,000 Med Migrants Rescued

The Italian coastguard rescued more than 2,000 migrants in a major operation off the Libyan coast, officials say.

During the rescue, search teams were threatened by Kalashnikov-wielding men who approached in a speedboat from Libya, Italian officials said, BBC wrote.

Last week, at least 300 migrants perished in the Mediterranean Sea. They were travelling in dinghies that ran into trouble during stormy weather after leaving the coast of Libya. On Friday another 600 migrants were rescued about 80km off the coast of the North African country.

The latest rescue effort on Sunday involved a plane, four coastguard ships, two tugboats and a navy vessel, according to reports. Local media reported that the migrants had been aboard 12 boats and had been taken to Italy.

According to Italian officials, four men with Kalashnikov rifles sped out from the Libyan shore during the rescue and ordered the coastguard to return a boat that had been emptied of migrants.

Some of the gunmen jumped onto the boat and took off with it, Italian Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi said in a report.

The  United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says almost 3,500 people died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe in 2014, making it the world’s most dangerous sea crossing for migrants trying to enter the European Union.

More than 200,000 people were rescued during the same period.