18 Italian and Tunisian sailors, held in Libya released

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

A group of 18 sailors who were seized by Libyan patrol boats earlier in September while fishing in the Mediterranean have been freed by authorities in eastern Libya, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Thursday.

The sailors, who include Italian and Tunisian nationals, were accused by local authorities of operating in Libya’s territorial waters. Italy disputed this.

“Our sailors are free,” Di Maio said in a post on Facebook shortly after he and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte flew to Benghazi for talks with military commander Khalifa Haftar.

Their imprisonment became a political embarrassment for Italy’s government, with critics accusing ministers of failing to stand up to Haftar.

It was not immediately clear what concessions, if any, Italy had made to win their release.