Libyan Navy: Italian Fishermen Won’t Be Released until Libyan Athletes Held in Italy Are Freed

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The Libyan Navy announced that the General Command of the Libyan National Army (LNA) had instructed them not to release the 15 detained Italian fishermen until Libyan athletes held in Italy are freed. The 15 individuals were stopped off the coast of Benghazi on board of two Italian fishing boats.

In a statement to the Italian news agency Nova, the Commander of the Libyan naval forces, Ahmed Jumaa, announced that the Ikrimah boat had arrested two Italian fishing boats with 15 people on board.

The fishermen were referred to investigation while instructions were issued by the General Command not to free them until Libyan players imprisoned in Italy were released.

For his part, the commander of the Ikrimah boat who stopped the boats, Ahmed Ashour al-Jaidi, said that he had intercepted the fishermen in Libyan waters, 30 nautical miles north of the city of Deriana, east of Benghazi.

“While we were going out on a routine patrol off the Tokra area, nine targets were spotted 30 nautical miles north of Deriana. We went to them immediately and discovered that they were Italian fishing boats. We spoke to them on the radio but did not receive any response from them. We managed to control two of them, but unfortunately, the rest fled,” he said.

Jumaa pointed out that this is not the first time that these boats violate Libyan territorial waters, adding: “We are doing our duty to protect our territorial sovereignty, and we will not allow our maritime wealth to be stolen, and we warn any party against approaching Libya’s territorial waters in these challenging times that the country is going through.”