Cyprus Detains 2 Syrians over Boat Filled with 131 Migrants

FILE - In this Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017 file photo, migrants from Syria walk towards a refugee camp at Kokkinotrimithia, outside of the capital Nicosia, in the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, File)

NICOSIA (AP) — Cyprus police said Tuesday that they detained two Syrian men on suspicion of human trafficking following the arrival of a boat loaded with 131 Syrian migrants on the island nation’s northeastern coast.

Police said the two men were aboard another vessel that had shadowed the boat ferrying the migrants as it approached the Cypriot coastline on Monday.

Cypriot authorities had tracked the movements of the migrants’ boat by radar.

The men, ages 43 and 53, were arrested after a marine police patrol boat intercepted their vessel off the Akamas nature preserve.

Both men face charges including aiding and abetting the illegal entry of migrants in Cyprus and people trafficking by a sea route.

All 131 migrants, including five women and eight minors, were taken to a reception center on the capital’s outskirts.

In a separate incident in Croatia, police said they discovered nine migrants early Tuesday crammed in a bolted crate at the back of a van. The migrants included three men, two women and four minors who said they were from Iran and Iraq. The 21-year-old Ukrainian national who drove the van was arrested for suspected human smuggling.

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