Italian authorities persecute illegal migrants and arrest smugglers

Italian police chased a fishing boat carrying illegal migrants off the Sicilian coast for several hours before arresting three suspected smugglers.

Police in the Sicilian town of Agrigento said they chased the boat in rough seas before boarding it at 0500GMT, around 32 miles from the coast.

About 80 people were on board, probably of North African origin, police said. They said three people suspected of trying to smuggle the migrants into Italy had been arrested.

About 20 people had already disembarked before the boat tried to flee.

Authorities in Sicily and the surrounding islands regularly intercept boats carrying would-be immigrants attempting the hazardous crossing from northern Africa to Italy, the AP re1ports.

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