Police arrested two suspected Russian people traffickers near the city of Lecce after 91 boat migrants were rescued overnight off the southern Puglia region’s coast.
The two Russians were held on the orders of prosecutors in Lecce and are suspected of trafficking the 91 Iranian, Pakistani and Afghan migrants including 20 women and 26 children.
The migrants were saved by coastguard off the costal city of Otranto and brought to its port. A two-month-old baby was among the minors rescued in the operation and was taken to a nearby hospital.
The other migrants received medical attention at the port and were all reported to be in good condition.
The rescue operation, which began at 2.30 am local time, was hampered by bad weather conditions and poor visibility, Italian coastguard said.
A total of 11,010 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea this year through February 5, of whom some 85 per cent arrived in Italy and the rest in Greece, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Tuesday.