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Coastguard ship docks in Trapani with 67 rescued migrants on board

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Coastguard ship docks in Trapani with 67 rescued migrants on board

Italy's Diciotti coast guard vessel carrying 67 asylum seekers wait off the coasts of Trapani on July 12, 2018. The migrants were rescued off Libya Tuesday by a private Italian vessel and then transferred to the coast guard ship in a case that has caused tension within the government. / AFP PHOTO / Alessandro FUCARINI

Italian coastguard ship Diciotto on Thursday docked in the western Sicilian port city of Trapani with 67 rescued migrants on board, government sources said Thursday.

The migrants were rescued on Sunday by an Italian commercial ship, the Vos Thalassa, which transferred the migrants to the Diciotto on Monday after anti-migrant interior minister Matteo Salvini barred the ship from docking at an Italian port.

Earlier, two of the rescued migrants allegedly made death threats to the Vos Thalassa's captain and crew, fearing they would be handed over to an approaching Libyan coastguard vessel. The report prompted Salvini on Wednesday to refuse to allow the Diciotto to dock in Trapani unless the "troublemakers" were arrested, imprisoned and deported.

A probe is underway into the alleged troublemakers and possible human traffickers among the rescued migrants.

Since taking office in June, Salvini has taken a tough stance against migrants in the Mediterranean, has closed Italy's ports to charity and international rescue vessels, and has set a goal of "zero" arrivals.

The Vos Thalassa was the first Italian rescue ship to be denied entry to a national port - move that added a new element to the heated debate around migration in Italy and in other European countries.

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