Italian police said Thursday they had arrested a group of African migrants after witnesses said they threw 12 passengers overboard following a row about religion on a boat headed to Europe.
The deadly dispute, which saw a group of Muslim passengers allegedly attack a group of Christian passengers, coincided with reports of migrant drowning tragedy.
The boat, like many of the claptrap vessels flooding Italy’s shores each week with migrants fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East, had set out from Libya on Tuesday, according to the survivors.
The police said the distraught Nigerians and Ghanaians told a “dreadful” story of their struggle to escape with their lives “by forcefully resisting attempts to drown them, forming a veritable human chain in some cases.”
Italy pleaded for more help from other European Union countries Thursday to rescue the migrants risking their lives to reach