VALLETTA, Malta (AP) — Maltese armed forces on Thursday intercepted a ship that had been hijacked by immigrants to avoid being returned to Libya.
Matteo Salvini on said that "immigration is managed by criminals and should be blocked by any legal means necessary."
Italy’s Interior Minister Salvini called the incident "the first act of piracy on the high seas with migrants," and said they would not be allowed to land in Italy as the tanker headed north toward Malta and Italy.
Humanitarian groups cautioned against the characterization, saying the immigrants were acting in self-defense to avoid being returned to lawless Libya.
Maltese armed forces returned control of the tanker to the captain, who then sailed to Malta under military escort. Four immigrants were taken off the tanker in handcuffs.
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