September 22, 2017 / 9:13 AM / a month ago

Tunisian navy rescues 78 migrants off coast

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisia’s navy rescued 78 migrants including two girls after their vessel en route to Europe took on water off the coast of Chebba and was stranded for three days, the defence ministry said on Friday.

Human traffickers increasingly use Tunisia as a launch pad for migrants heading for Europe after Libya’s coastguard aided by armed groups tightened its controls.

“Naval forces rescued 78 illegal Tunisian migrants 70 kilometres east of the coast of Chebba on board a boat that was damaged and leaking water,” the ministry said in statement, adding that nobody died in the incident.

Tunisia has been praised for its democratic progress after a 2011 uprising against autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali but successive governments have failed to create jobs for young people, some of whom head to Europe to seek work.

Reporting By Tarek Amara; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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