Mediterranean Migrants Hijack Oil Tanker and Demand to Dock in Malta
A group of 108 migrants attempting to reach Italy on a rubber dinghy from Libya are now being called pirates after commandeering the Palau-flagged tanker that saved them. Upon learning that the Libyan Coast Guard directed the tanker’s Turkish crew to return the migrants to Libya, the rescued migrants revolted and were able to take over the ship. It is unclear who is navigating the ship, now heading at a speed of 21 knots towards Malta. At the current speed, it will reach Maltese waters on Thursday morning. No one on board has responded to calls to halt from Italian or Maltese Coast Guard forces in the area. The Turkish crew has not answered any communication attempts after initially reporting that their vessel had been hijacked. An Italian Air Force aircraft has been following the ship and authorities are trying to determine whether it is safe to drop armed guards down to try to wrest the massive tanker back. Last June, Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini stopped all migrant rescue operations that had traditionally rescued migrants and brought them to Italy. Since then, most migrants are returned to Libya where many report harsh human-rights abuses.