TUNIS, Tunisia 

Tunisia said Saturday that it had rescued 208 irregular migrants off its coast in the Mediterranean Sea in two separate operations.

“The National Guard managed on Friday and Saturday to thwart 16 illegal crossings of the maritime borders towards Italy and rescued 155 [migrants] aboard leaking boats,” Houssam Eddine al-Jabali, a spokesperson for the Tunisian National Guard, said on his Facebook page.

He added that ten of the migrants were wanted for justice, without giving further details.

Al-Jabali said 53 other migrants were rescued earlier on Saturday after two boats sunk off the coasts of El Ghadabna and Chebba in the country’s eastern Mahdia province.

According to the spokesperson, 38 people were arrested in a preemptive operation in Sfax, Kerkennah, and Hammamet as they were preparing for an irregular migration operation towards Italy.

For years, Maghreb countries — Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia — have witnessed attempts by migrants from mainly sub-Saharan Africa to reach Europe.

*Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar in Ankara

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