TIME Libya

U.S. Evacuates Libyan Embassy

Secretary of State John Kerry blamed the rise of "freewheeling militia violence" in the country where an attack by Islamic militants killed four Americans in 2012

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Updated 10:59 a.m. ET

The State Department relocated all personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, on Saturday following an outbreak of violence between Libyan militias, the department announced.

“A lot of the violence is around our embassy but not on the embassy, but nevertheless it presents a very real risk to our personnel,” Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Paris, ABC reports.

Kerry blamed the “freewheling militia violence” that has flourished since the ousting of former president Muammar Gaddafi.

“We are committed to supporting the Libyan people during this challenging time, and are currently exploring options for a permanent return to Tripoli as soon as the security situation on the ground improves,” deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said in a statement.

U.S. military assisted in the operation and drove personnel to Tunisia. The relocation took five hours and was “without incident,” according a statement from Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby.

Embassy staff will now work out of Washington, D.C., and other locations in the region.

The relocation occurred the same day the State Department issued a new travel warning that strongly advised U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to Libya and to leave immediately if already visiting.

In 2012, an attack on U.S. diplomatic compounds in Benghazi, Libya, by Islamic militants killed four Americans.

“Securing our facilities and ensuring the safety of our personnel are top Department priorities, and we did not make this decision lightly,” Harf’s statement continues. “Security has to come first. Regrettably, we had to take this step because the location of our embassy is in very close proximity to intense fighting and ongoing violence between armed Libyan factions.”

TIME Libya

U.N. Withdraws Libya Staff as Fresh Rocket Attack Strikes Tripoli Airport

Mideast Libya
In this image made from video by the Associated Press, smoke rises from the direction of Tripoli International Airport, in the capital of Libya, on July 13, 2014 AP

Facing spiraling unrest, the U.N. is withdrawing its entire staff from the country. "The mission concluded that it would not be possible to continue its work," read a statement

One person died and six were injured after a rocket assault hit Libya’s main international airport on Monday evening.

Tripoli International Airport had been closed a day before the attack because of fighting between an alliance of militia groups and rebels hailing from the western Zintan region, who have been in control of the airport for the past two years.

The terminal was attacked by “a large number of rockets, including Grad rockets,” a security source told the BBC.

Twelve planes were damaged in the barrage of fire and the control tower had taken a hit, with escalating clashes also forcing nearby Misratah Airport to close.

In response to the worsening security situation, the U.N. announced the withdrawal of its entire staff from the country. “The mission concluded that it would not be possible to continue its work … while at the same time ensuring the security and safety of its staff,” read a statement.

Tripoli is the main national transport hub, and as the only other international airport, Benghazi, has been closed for two months, there are no longer any flights to and from the E.U.

Libya has remained unstable since the fall of dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

[BBC]

TIME Benghazi attack

Another Group May Have Been Involved in Benghazi Attack on CIA Complex

Benghazi Two Attacks
In this Sept. 13, 2012 file photo, a Libyan man investigates the inside of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya after an attack two days earlier. Newly revealed testimony from top military commanders involved in the U.S. response to the Benghazi attacks suggests that the perpetrators of a second, dawn assault on a CIA complex probably were different from those who penetrated the U.S. diplomatic mission the evening before. Mohammad Hannon—AP

The House Armed Services Committee released the testimony Wednesday.

(WASHINGTON) — Well-trained attackers executed the deadly dawn assault on a CIA complex in Benghazi, Libya, suggesting different perpetrators from those who penetrated the U.S. diplomatic mission the previous night, according to newly revealed testimony from top military commanders.

The initial attack, on Sept. 11, 2012, killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and communications specialist Sean Smith and set the mission ablaze. Nearly eight hours later at the CIA complex nearby, two more Americans, contract security officers Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, died in a mortar attack that showed clear military training, retired Gen. Carter Ham told Congress in closed-door testimony earlier this year.

The House Armed Services Committee released the testimony Wednesday.

The second assault probably was the work of a new team of militants who had seized on reports of violence at the diplomatic mission the night before and hit the Americans while they were most vulnerable, according to testimony that could clarify the events. The testimony also reveals how little information the military had on which to base an urgent response.

Bitter recriminations in the U.S. followed the 2012 attacks, including Republican-led congressional investigations and campaign-season denunciations of the Obama administration, which made inaccurate statements about the Libyan attacks. The testimony released Wednesday underscored a key detail that sometimes has been lost in the debate: that the attacks were two distinct events over two days on two different buildings, perhaps by unrelated groups.

The U.S. government still has not fully characterized the first attack in which, according to Ham and eight other military officers, men who seemed familiar with the lightly protected diplomatic compound breached it and set it on fire, killing Stevens and Smith. A disorganized mob of looters then overran the facility.

In testimony to two House panels earlier this year, the officers said that commanders didn’t have the information they needed to understand the nature of the attack, that they were unaware of the extent of the U.S. presence in Benghazi at the time and they were convinced erroneously for a time that they were facing a hostage crisis without the ability to move military assets into place that would be of any use.

To this day, despite the investigations, it’s not clear if the violence resulted from a well-planned, multiphase military-type assault or from a loosely connected, escalating chain of events.

Two House panels — Armed Services and Oversight and Government Reform — conducted interviews with the nine officers on separate days from January to April.

In their testimony, military officials expressed some uncertainty about the first attack, describing protests and looting in an assault that lasted about 45 minutes.

The military attache to the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli told Congress the first attack showed some advance planning. The Libyan police officer guarding the diplomatic compound fled as it began.

The defense attache, whose name wasn’t released, suggested the attackers “had something on the shelf” — an outline of a plan based on previously obtained information about the compound and its security measures, so they were ready to strike when the opportunity arose.

“They came in, and they had a sense of purpose, and I think it sometimes gets confused because you had looters and everyone else coming in,” he said. “It was less than kind of full, thought-out, methodical.”

Ham testified that the second attack, which killed Woods and Doherty at the annex a mile from the diplomatic compound where the assault began the night before, showed clear military training. It was probably the work of a new team of militants, taking advantage after reports of violence at the first site and American vulnerability.

“Given the precision of the attack, it was a well-trained mortar crew, and in my estimation they probably had a well-trained observer,” said Ham, who headed the U.S. command in Africa. The second attack showed “a degree of sophistication and military training that is relatively unusual and certainly, I think, indicates that this was not a pickup team. This was not a couple of guys who just found a mortar someplace.”

Ham said the nearly eight-hour time lapse between the two attacks also seemed significant. “If the team (that launched the second attack) was already there, then why didn’t they shoot sooner?” he asked.

“I think it’s reasonable that a team came from outside of Benghazi,” he said of the second attack in testimony on April 9. Violent extremists saw an opportunity “and said, ‘Let’s get somebody there.'” He also acknowledged that the absence of American security personnel on the ground soon enough after the first attack “allowed sufficient time for the second attack to be organized and conducted,” he said.

Stevens had gone to Benghazi from the embassy in Tripoli to open a cultural center, State Department officials said.

The attacks came as President Barack Obama was in a close re-election battle, campaigning in part on the contention that al-Qaida no longer posed a significant threat to the United States and that, blending the economy and the fight against terrorism, General Motors was alive but “Osama bin Laden is dead.” A terror attack on American assets could have damaged that argument.

Five days after the attack, after feverish email exchanges about her “talking points” among national security staff members and their spokesmen, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice linked the Benghazi attacks to protests in Tunisia and Cairo over an anti-Islam video. Weeks later, U.S. officials retracted that account but never fully articulated a new one.

Republicans seized on the inaccuracies, contending that the Obama administration was covering up a terror attack for political gain.

Several congressional and independent investigations have faulted the State Department for inadequate security, but they have not provided a full reading of who was involved in the violence, what the motives were and how they could pull off such a seemingly complicated, multipronged assault.

People on both sides of the debate tend to link the two incidents as one attack.

The congressional testimony that distinguishes the attacks came from military officials in Tripoli or, like Ham, coordinating the response in Washington. Most have never given a public account. But they agreed that confusion reigned from the outset.

“We’re under attack,” was the first report the military received from Benghazi. That message came from Stevens’ entourage to Tripoli in the late afternoon of Sept. 11. Word was relayed to the defense attache, who reported up the chain of command.

That report gave no indication about the size or intensity of the attack.

The defense attache testified that the assault on the diplomatic mission was followed by a mob that complicated and confused the situation.

He said of the original attackers, “I don’t think they were on the objective, so to speak, longer than 45 minutes. They kind of got on, did their business, and left.” For hours after that, he said, there were looters and “people throwing stuff and you see the graffiti and things like that.”

Once the first attack ended around 10 p.m., the military moved to evacuate Americans from Benghazi, while preparing for what it erroneously believed might have been an emerging hostage situation involving Stevens.

In fact, Stevens died of smoke inhalation after the diplomatic post was set on fire in the first attack.

Seven-and-a-half hours later, at dawn, mortars crashed on a CIA compound that had been unknown to top military commanders.

The military worked up a response on numerous fronts.

At one point, fewer than 10 U.S. military personnel in Libya were grappling with the mortar and rocket-propelled grenade attack on Americans who had taken cover at the CIA facility and, some 600 miles away, the evacuation of about three dozen people from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli by a convoy of armored vehicles.

An unarmed Predator drone conducting an operation nearby in eastern Libya had been repositioned over Benghazi, yet offered limited assistance during the nighttime and with no intelligence to guide it. A standby force training in Croatia was ordered to Sicily, while another farther afield was mobilized. Neither was nearly ready in time to intervene during the first 45-minute attack and couldn’t predict the quick mortar attack the next morning. An anti-terrorism support team in Spain was deployed, though it, too, was hours away.

American reinforcements of a six-man security team, including two military personnel, were held up at the Benghazi airport for hours by Libyan authorities. Drone images and intelligence hadn’t provided indications of a new attack, but word eventually came from two special forces troops who had made it to the annex and reported casualties from the dawn attack up the chain of command.

In Tripoli, military and embassy officials were evacuating the embassy there and destroying computer hardware and sensitive information.

The administration last month apprehended its first suspect, Ahmed Abu Khattala, and brought him to the United States to stand trial on terrorism charges.

The Justice Department maintains in court documents that Abu Khattala was involved in both attacks, and it describes the first breach on the diplomatic post as equally sophisticated. The government said a group of about 20 men, armed with AK-47- rifles, handguns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, stormed the diplomatic facility in the first attack.

Abu Khattala supervised the looting after Americans fled, the government says, and then returned to the camp of the Islamist militant group Ansar al-Sharia, where the Justice Department says a large force began assembling for the second attack.

The Justice Department provided no supporting documentation for those conclusions. They also reflect the divisions among current and former government officials about the two attacks.

In her book “Hard Choices,” former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote that there were scores of attackers with different motives. “It is inaccurate to state that every single one of them was influenced by this hateful video. It is equally inaccurate to state that none of them were. Both assertions defy not only the evidence but logic as well.”

Abu Khattala’s lawyer says the government has failed to show that he was connected to either attack.

Ham, who happened to be in Washington that week, briefed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey. They informed the president.

Many of the military officials said they didn’t even know about the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, let alone the CIA’s clandestine installation nearby. Few knew of Stevens visiting the city that day. Given all of the confusion, Ham said there was one thing he clearly would have done differently: “Advise the ambassador to not go to Benghazi.”

TIME France

Sarkozy Faces Charges in French Corruption Probe

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrives with police by car at the financial investigation unit in Paris to be presented to a judge
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrives with police by car at the financial investigation unit in Paris to be presented to a judge late July 1, 2014. Former French President Sarkozy was held for questioning for 15 hours on Tuesday over suspicions he used his influence to secure leaked details of an inquiry into alleged irregularities in his 2007 election campaign. Pascal Rossignol—Reuters

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the judicial investigation is being carried out independently of the Socialist government, which defeated Sarkozy in elections in 2012

(PARIS) — Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, his lawyer and a magistrate are facing preliminary charges in a corruption investigation linked to allegations that he took 50 million euros ($67 million) in illegal campaign funds from Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, after a night of questioning by judicial officials.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the judicial investigation is being carried out independently of the Socialist government, which defeated Sarkozy in elections in 2012.

“This situation is serious, the facts are serious,” Valls told BFM television Wednesday. “The indictment concerns magistrates — high level magistrates — a lawyer, a former president of France. But as head of the government, I’m asking that we recall the independence of the justice system, which must carry out its work serenely. No one is above the law, is the second principle. And thirdly, and it is important to remind it, there is the presumption of innocence which applies to everybody.”

Lawyers for Thierry Herzog, Sarkozy’s attorney, and the magistrate, Gilbert Azibert, said the men were handed preliminary charges of influence trafficking. The French daily Le Monde says the questioning centers around whether Sarkozy and his lawyer were kept informed about the investigation into the Libyan allegations by Azibert in exchange for promises of a post in Monaco.

Azibert did not receive a job in Monaco.

Sarkozy has vigorously denied wrongdoing.

After further investigation, judges will determine whether to bring the case to trial.

Suspicions are based at least in part on taped phone conversations between Sarkozy and his lawyer, Thierry Herzog.

Herzog’s lawyer, Paul-Albert Iweins, sharply criticized the decision to take the men into custody for questioning, which lasted into the early hours of Wednesday.

“None of these men is going to flee, they are not going to ignore a summons,” Iweins told France Info. “The only reason to detain them is to apply psychological pressure.”

TIME Italy

Boat Migrants Risk Everything for a New Life in Europe

Photographer Massimo Sestini accompanied the Italian navy on its rescue missions earlier this month, offering a rare up-close glimpse of the men, women and children who make the dangerous trip to start a new life

Eight months after a boat carrying hundreds of migrants sank off the coast of Lampedusa, killing more than 360 people and spurring an international outcry, the flow of migrants risking the perilous sea journey to Europe shows no signs of letting up.

Already this year, the number of migrants arriving by boat on Italy’s shores has surpassed 40,000, the total number of migrants that arrived in 2013. Earlier this month, Italy said it rescued some 5,200 people in the span of just four days. Officials there warn that many more will die without broader support from across Europe.

Tens of thousands of refugees and migrants make the journey to Europe annually, departing from dozens of countries in Africa and the Middle East, according to the European Parliament. In recent years, Syrians fleeing the civil war in their country have joined the ranks of Eritreans, Sudanese and Somalis looking for a better life, the UN said in April.

On World Refugee Day, June 20, TIME is publishing a collection of images from photographer Massimo Sestini, who accompanied the Italian navy on its rescue missions earlier this month. The shots depict the treacherous conditions in which tens of thousands of migrants and refugees attempt the crossing, packed in rickety motorboats with limited supplies. But they also reveal, in a manner rarely seen, the human faces of some of the men, women and children who risk everything to make it to Europe.

After the tragedy off of Lampedusa, Italy began a naval mission dubbed “Mare Nostrum,” Latin for “Our Sea,” to patrol the waters. The operation has rescued some 30,000 people, but officials in Italy and Greece are calling for support in the face of this summer’s expected calm seas and warmer weather, when journeys are likely to jump. Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano warned earlier this week that Italy might not be able to afford to continue Mare Nostrum without EU support.

Last month, Enzo Bianco, Mayor of Sicily’s Catania, condemned Europe’s “deafening silence” at a funeral for 17 migrants who died off the coast of Libya, the Guardian reported. “Faced with these coffins, Europe must choose [whether to] bury our consciences of civilized men along with them,” he said.

TIME Libya

U.S. Captures Suspected Ringleader of Benghazi Attack

Ahmed Abu Khatallah is suspected in the 2012 attack

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American authorities have captured a suspected “key figure” in the 2012 attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, officials confirmed on Tuesday, during a covert raid in Libya that gives a welcome foreign policy victory for the Obama Administration.

U.S. Special Forces and law-enforcement personnel apprehended Ahmed Abu Khatallah, a senior leader of the militant group Ansar al-Shari’a, on Sunday, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said.

“He is in U.S. custody in a secure location outside of Libya,” Kirby said. “There were no civilian casualties related to this operation, and all U.S. personnel involved in the operation have safely departed Libya.

American officials wouldn’t yet say where Khatallah will be transferred to, though he is expected to be turned over to law enforcement for trial in the U.S. in the coming days. The Department of Justice filed charges against Khatallah in a sealed indictment in federal court last year.

Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed during the Sept. 11, 2012 attack. It became a rallying cry for conservative critics of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy record in the run-up to the 2012 elections, and congressional Republicans have continued to probe the Administration’s handling of the incident and its aftermath.

“The United States has an unwavering commitment to bring to justice those responsible for harming Americans,” Obama said in a statement. “Since the deadly attacks on our facilities in Benghazi, I have made it a priority to find and bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of four brave Americans. I recently authorized an operation in Libya to detain an individual charged for his role in these attacks, Ahmed Abu Khatallah. The fact that he is now in U.S. custody is a testament to the painstaking efforts of our military, law enforcement and intelligence personnel.”

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham quickly said on Twitter that “Khattala should be held at Guantánamo as a potential enemy combatant.” But Obama made clear his Administration is taking another route.

“This individual will now face the full weight of the American justice system,” Obama said.

“With this operation, the United States has once again demonstrated that we will do whatever it takes to see that justice is done when people harm Americans,” he added. “We will continue our efforts to bring to justice those who were responsible for the Benghazi attacks.”

Khatallah was added to the State Department’s designated list of terrorists in January. He was living relatively openly in Libya after the attacks, sitting for several interviews with Western reporters last year. Khatallah is the first suspect to have been captured for suspected involvement in the attack. His capture was first reported by the Washington Post.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the apprehension doesn’t end the U.S. investigation into the attack, “but marks an important milestone.”

TIME Libya

Libyan General With U.S. Passport Wages War On Islamist Extremists

Gen. Khalifa Hifter has assembled a force that is taking the fight to Islamist extremists in the worst fighting since the 2011 revolution

Into the chaos of post-revolution Libya rides Gen. Khalifa Hifter, a former confidant of Muammar Gaddafi with a U.S. passport and a reputed history with the CIA. A resident of northern Virginia until the 2011 revolution that deposed his old boss, Hifter, 71, returned to his homeland and, after a couple of embarrassing personal setbacks, recently persuaded elements of the military forces to join him in battling the most extreme of the many armed militias operating in Libya today.

The fighting, described as the worst since the overthrow of Gaddafi, prompted the State Department this week to urge Americans to leave Libya, and the Pentagon to move a warship with 1,000 Marines on board into the vicinity. The USS Bataan was ordered, if not quite to the shores of Tripoli, then close enough to respond quickly if an evacuation is ordered.

Libya has remained conspicuously unstable since Gaddafi’s regime fell in August 2011 in an armed rebellion supported by a NATO air campaign. A constitutional process was set up, and a legislature and prime minister elected. But the government has failed to establish what academics call the fundamental element of sovereignty—a monopoly on force. Last October, the premier was kidnapped in broad daylight. Scores if not hundreds of militias are active, the most feared of which are Islamist extremists like the gunmen responsible for overrunning the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi in September 2012, killing ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Those are the militias Hifter is targeting. “We are now fighting not only on behalf of Libya, but on behalf of the whole world,” he told the New York Times by telephone on Wednesday. Fighter-jets loyal to Hifter bombed a base in Benghazi held by an extremist militia. In Tripoli, the capital, a militia loyal to Hifter overran the legislature on May 18, prompting lawmakers to finally name a date for new elections (June 25).

U.S. officials deny that Hifter is getting American support, something he reportedly boasted of receiving decades earlier when he commanded a force trying to unseat Gaddafi. He had helped Gaddafi come to power in a 1969 coup, but then turned against the strongman in the 1980s after being captured in neighboring Chad, which Gaddafi had ordered invaded. He later moved to Virginia, and voted in local elections in 2008 and 2009.

His 2011 return to Libya was not triumphant. Hifter tried but failed to take command of the rebel force arrayed against Gaddafi. And when he showed up on television in February calling for the overthrow of the government, he was mocked.

But in the weeks that followed, a force took shape behind him—motivated, according to the current U.S. ambassador, Deborah Jones, by a wave of assassinations carried by extremists, including a bomb attack on graduating military cadets. “That was the breaking point,” Jones said in a May 21 talk at The Stimson Center, a Washington think tank.

“Hifter’s focus is very specifically on terrorist groups,” Jones said, in remarks she acknowledged were more supportive of Hifter than the official State Department line, which criticizes the use of force. “It’s not necessarily for me to condemn his action going against… groups that are frankly are on our lists of terrorists,” Jones said.

Libya’s politics remain chaotic. The country has had three prime ministers in the last two months, two of whom still claim the title. The constitution is only now being drafted. Hifter has shown signs he views himself as Libya’s version of Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the Egyptian general who deposed an elected Islamist government in neighboring Egypt, and was elected president this week. But the dynamic in Libya is a different one, analysts say.

“I hear a lot of support for his actions against these specific groups, less support for him as an individual, given his background,” Jones said. “The jury is still out, because it’s not clear what the political agenda is.”

TIME Libya

Top Libyan Journalist and Critic of Islamic Extremism Gunned Down

Journalists and others take part in a rally at Tripoli's Martyrs' Square on May 26, 2014 Mahmud Turkia—AFP / Getty

Meftah Bouzid's slaying is the latest in a series of deadly attacks carried out by jihadists in the Islamist stronghold of Benghazi

Meftah Bouzid, a prominent Libyan journalist and vocal critic of the country’s jihadists, was shot dead on Monday in the Islamist stronghold of Benghazi, generating a wave of condemnation from domestic and international rights organizations.

Bouzid had previously been the subject of death threats for his frequent condemnation of Islamic extremists, who since the 2011 revolution have carried out dozens of deadly attacks on prominent figures, officials, foreigners and the armed forces in Benghazi, AFP reports.

Hundreds of people attended the funeral of the slain editor of the weekly newspaper Burniq, as French-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the U.N. mission in Libya called for a prompt investigation into the shooting.

RSF urged “all civilian, military and political actors … to immediately end all attacks on civilians, including all journalists.”

[AFP]

TIME Libya

Libyan Government Defiant After Renegade Militia Storms Parliament

Mideast Libya
Joint security forces on vehicles with heavy artillery stand guard on the entrance road to Libya's parliament area after troops of General Khalifa Hifter targeted Islamist lawmakers and officials at the parliament in Tripoli on Sunday, May 18, 2014. Libyan national army/AP

Assault on legislature with shells and mortars leaves two dead and dozens wounded as Tripoli's interim administration deplores the use of force

Libya’s interim government has condemned an attack on its parliament and attempted to dispel fears of its ouster.

General Khalifa Hifter, a former rebel commander who claims to have operated with U.S. backing in the struggle to topple former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, suspended parliament Sunday after militia loyal to him attacked the building in Tripoli with truck-mounted artillery, rockets and mortars. Lawmakers fled as gunmen ransacked the legislature, with two people reportedly killed and more than 50 wounded.

Early on Monday, Libyan Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani issued a statement condemning “the expression of political opinion through the use of armed force,” according to the Associated Press. He called “on all sides to resort to dialogue and reconciliation.”

General Mokhtar Farnana, an ally of Hifter, told Libyan TV that the assault was not a coup but “fighting by the people’s choice.”

The unrest, some of the worst to scar Libya since the fall of Gaddafi three years ago, spread to the southern edge of Tripoli and along the airport highway. Hifter had already deployed troops to Benghazi on Friday to battle Islamist militants there, reports Reuters.

Since the end of Libya’s civil war, the nation’s fragile democracy has endured numerous crises. It is currently under its third Prime Minister since March, with no new constitution and politics dogged by relentless squabbling.

TIME Italy

At Least 14 Dead as Boat Bearing Migrants Sinks South of Italy

Migrants are seen in a boat during a rescue operation by Italian navy ship San Marco off the coast to the south of the Italian island of Sicily
Migrants are seen in a boat after being rescued by an Italian navy ship on Feb. 5, 2014. Two boats carrying migrants capsized south of Italy in recent days Reuters

Two hundred migrants were rescued and at least 14 died in the second deadly shipwreck over two days in waters south of Italy, the Italian coast guard says. According to some media accounts, the boat was carrying up to 400 people when it sank between Libya and Italy

A boat carrying migrants headed for Italy sank off the coast of Libya on Monday, leaving at least 14 dead and many more missing.

Coast-guard and naval vessels have rescued about 200 people and found bodies in the water, news agency ANSA reports. According to some media accounts, the boat was carrying up to 400 people when it sank in the sea between Libya and Italy.

Military and merchant ships are still searching for more survivors and bodies in the waters surrounding the incident, the second deadly shipwreck in the area in two days. On Sunday, a migrant boat sank off the Libyan coast, claiming more than 40 lives.

More than 36,000 migrants have arrived at Italy’s southern coast during the first 4½ months of 2014, the New York Times reports.

Both Italy and Libya have called on European countries to help them cope with the increasing number of migrants from the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa arriving in southern Italy with boats from Libya.

“Europe isn’t helping us,” Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said on Monday in Bologna, before calling on Europe to help accommodate the thousands of migrants arriving in Italy, ANSA reports.

On Saturday, Libya’s Interior Minister warned Europe that Libya will “flood Europe” with migrants if countries don’t help deal with the migrant crisis.

“I warn the world, especially the European Union, unless they assume their responsibility … we warn that Libya could facilitate the passage of this flood (of illegal migrants) and fast,” Salah Mazeq said, according to CNN.

[ANSA]

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