Sri Lanka arrests 250 Pakistani migrants
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s navy arrested on Tuesday more than 250 Pakistanis accused of using the island as a transit point to try to illegally migrate to Italy.
Police said 183 Pakistanis were arrested aboard a Maldivian ship with a Russian captain off the southern coast, and another 71 were picked up on the nearby beach.
“They were about to go to Italy. We had the ship under surveillance for several days,” police spokesman Rienzie Perera told Reuters.
He said five Sri Lankans were also arrested in the raid. Police have said the Indian Ocean island is becoming a transit point for illegal migration, especially to Italy.
Twenty-one Pakistanis attempting the same journey were arrested in April. Last month, police here arrested 12 Bangladeshi men allegedly trying to board a fishing boat that was to illegally take them to Italy.
Sri Lankans trying to smuggle themselves off the island bound for Europe aboard fishing trawlers are often detained or turned back after reaching their destinations.
Shaukat Piracha adds: The government of Pakistan has its High Commission in Colombo to provide full assistance to the arrested Pakistanis.
“We are in touch with our High Commission in Colombo and have directed the officials there to provide full legal or any other assistance required,” Foreign Office Spokesman Masood Khan told Daily Times.