ANTALYA, Turkey

Turkish security forces Monday held 194 asylum seekers trying to cross to Europe off the Mediterranean coast of Antalya, according to a security source.

People in Kumluca district reported that asylum seekers were on a tour boat, named Summer Love A, according to a security source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Coast guard and gendarmerie teams were referred to the area and they detained 165 Afghan, Iranian, Somalian, and Egyptian nationals on the boat, the source added.

The teams also held another 29 asylum seekers after a search through the bay and forested area.

Two people suspected of organizing the journey were also arrested, the source added.

The asylum seekers will be transferred to the provincial migration office after procedures at the Gendarmerie Station Command in the province.

In their statements, the asylum seekers said they got on the boat to reach Italy but had to return to the coast as the boat broke down.

Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum seekers aiming to cross to Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

*Writing by Sena Guler

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