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Italy navy warns 'terrorists' could be crossing in migrant boats

Published on Jul 3, 2014 8:34 PM
Migrants wait to disembark from the Italian military ship "Grecale" as they arrived in the port of Pozzallo, Sicily, on July 2, 2014, two days after a rescue operation of a fishing boat by the Italian navy (Marina Militare) off the coast. -- PHOTO: AFP 

ROME (AFP) - The head of Italy's navy warned Thursday that terrorists could be using migrant boats to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, amid increased concern among intelligence services of possible attacks by extremists.

"There's a risk not only of massive illegal immigration, but also of terrorist infiltrations," the commander in chief of the Italian navy, Luigi Binelli Mantelli, told La Stampa. He said that police boarding migrant boats intercepted by the navy were trained in special interrogation techniques designed to root out traffickers and potential "terrorists".

"There are indicators which confirm contacts between traffickers (who organise the boats) and terrorists," he said.

Italy's "Mare Nostrum" ("Our Sea") operation is not just tasked with rescuing immigrants - thousands of whom have drowned on the perilous crossing - but is also "monitoring the sea in a situation of international crisis", he said.

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