VALLETTA, Malta (AP) A Maltese special operations team boarded a tanker today that had been hijacked by migrants rescued at sea and recaptured control of it before escorting it to a Maltese port. Italys hard-line interior minister slammed the migrants as pirates but aid groups rejected that label, saying the European Unions policy of sending migrants back to lawless Libya was to blame.
Armed military personnel stood guard on the ships deck, and a dozen or so migrants were also visible, as the Turkish oil tanker El Hiblu 1 docked today at Boiler Wharf in the city of Senglea. Five suspected ringleaders were led off in handcuffs.
In all, the Turkish tanker rescued 77 men, 19 women and 12 minors, including toddlers, Malta officials said. One pregnant woman and one child were being treated at a hospital as a precaution.
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