Police officials from Italy have arrested 15 men in connection with an alleged case of mass murder. According to Israeli news website Arutz Sheva, officials in Italy arrested 15 men after they allegedly threw as many as 12 co-passengers overboard into the Mediterranean Sea following a brawl. According to reports, the brawl took place inside the boat they were travelling in. Incidentally, the boat was filled with illegal immigrants from several African countries who were on their way to illegally enter Italy.
While it is unclear if there is a religious angle to this story, several reports claim that all the 12 immigrants who were thrown overboard the vessels were Christians, and that all the attackers were Muslims. According to a statement issued by the Palermo police on Thursday, they came to know of the incident after interviewing several illegal immigrants who were on the boat in which the incident allegedly happened. The boat, filled with illegal immigrants, was intercepted by Italian officials earlier, and several passengers were rescued.
Several people who were on the vessel revealed that at least a dozen Christian immigrants were threatened by the Muslim “aggressors” and that following a brawl, many of them were thrown off the boat. The survivors also added that they had all boarded the boat on Tuesday from the Libyan coast to make this arduous trip to Italy. There were a total of 105 immigrants on the boat belonging to several nationalities and religions. While most of the Muslim immigrants were from Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali, and Guinea-Bissau, many of the Christians were from Nigeria and Ghana.
According to The Guardian, the 15 Muslim attackers who belonged to different countries formed a group and attacked 12 other men – believed to be Christians. The Associated Press also reported that all of the victims were Christians and that the aggressors were Muslim. The Italian government has appointed a prosecutor in the case who has been given 48 hours to validate the arrests made in connection with the incident. The fate of the 12 immigrants thrown overboard remain under wraps with several reports claiming that all of them died. Arutz Sheva, however, reported that several of the overboard immigrants were “presumably” pulled back in.
It is still unclear at this stage if the attack on Christian immigrants was religiously motivated. Officials who have seen illegal migration attempts of this nature in the past say that they have never come across a situation in which a set of people were attacked on the basis of their religious faith. Fights on such boats however seem to be a rather common occurrence. Deaths in such incidents, however, were rare and usually happened when people on-board the vessel start to compete for the meager resources available during the trip, a senior Italian official said.
[Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images]