Libyan authorities have raided a clandestine jail in the southeastern city of Kufra, freeing at least 156 African migrants.
The raid occurred as the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) revealed on Monday that more than 1,300 Europe-bound migrants had been returned over the past week to the war-torn country.
The rescue at the facility used by human traffickers was carried out after a migrant managed to escape, last week, and reported to authorities that he and other migrants were held and tortured there.
Security forces arrested at least six traffickers and referred them to prosecutors for further investigation, the Kufra Security Bureau said. Among them were fifteen women and five children, the bureau said.
The migrants, who are from Somalia, Eritrea, and Sudan, were freed and taken to the shelter center where they were given food, clothes and blankets.
The Associated Press reported the IOM as saying that at least 1,315 migrants have been intercepted at the Mediterranean Sea since February 16, and returned to Libya’s western cities of Tripoli, Zuwara and Sabratha.
At least a dozen bodies were retrieved, the report said.
Since the beginning of the year, some 3,600, including around 270 women and 187 children, have been returned to the North African country, according to the UN migration agency.