One person was killed and another seriously injured when a rubber dinghy carrying migrants headed for Italy came under fire off the Libyan coast on Monday, Italian media reported.
Reports said one migrant had collapsed into the sea and drowned while another, a Gambian national, had been helicoptered by the Italian navy to hospital on Lampedusa, an Italian island located between Sicily and North Africa.
Italian prosecutors in Sicily have opened a homicide investigation against persons unknown.
Officials at Libya’s coastguard were quoted as denying that one of their patrol boats had been involved in the shooting incident, as was reportedly claimed by survivors.
The incident came as European Union foreign ministers approved the launch of the first phase of a military operation to target people smugglers behind the wave of boat people trying to reach Europe’s southern shores from North Africa.
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