World Bulletin / News Desk
A Maltese cargo ship was heading to assist a migrant boat with around 100 people on board in difficulty off the coast of Libya on Friday, and an Italian coast guard vessel was helping two other boats, Italian coastguards said.
More than 300 African migrants have already died attempting to reach Italy from North Africa this week, highlighting the chronic migrant problem in the Mediterranean following the closure of Italy's Mare Nostrum search-and-rescue operation last October.
Coastguard headquarters in Rome, which was coordinating both Friday's operations, said it had received a request for help by satellite telephone and had directed the Maltese ship to the location of the first vessel, a rubber boat.
The second incident was reported around 30 nautical miles from the Libyan capital Tripoli, and an Italian coastguard ship was already on the scene.
The coastguard said an improvement in weather conditions had allowed more migrant boats to set off from Libya, where the breakdown in law and order has allowed people-smugglers free rein.
The U.N. refugee organisation UNHCR says at least 218,000 migrants crossed the Mediterranean by boat last year and 3,500 lives were lost.
This week's deaths have renewed focus on the European Union mission that replaced Mare Nostrum. Unlike its predecessor, Triton does not have a specific search-and-rescue mandate, and limits its border control operations to the waters around the Italian coast.
Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer, head of the conservative CSU party, had openly clashed with Merkel at the height of the mass migrant and refugee influx in 2015.
Officials, who are presently in Saudi Arabia, are instructed to return to country
However Mattis appeared satisfied after what he described as an in-depth review of the policy by much of the president's cabinet and top security officials at Camp David on Friday.
Another eight people were wounded in the stabbing spree, which took place on Friday in the southwestern port city of Turku.
A coalition led by President Hashim Thaci's PDK party -- itself in power since 2007 -- topped early parliamentary polls held on June 11, but the alliance did not win the absolute majority needed to govern alone.
According to the Italian media, an extra 50 police carrying portable scanners were on duty to carry out checks on the 10,000 people who were in St Peter's square Sunday for Pope Francis's weekly Angelus prayer.
Barzani says postponement of Kurdish referendum on independence 'unlikely'
The president had flown to South Africa on Wednesday to attend a two-day regional leaders' summit in Pretoria that began Saturday -- which police said she had been expected to attend.
Local media says 3 armed men were reportedly spotted on Paris-Nimes train
Opposition protesters call for change in country's constitution, want term limits
Police said they had cast a dragnet for 22-year-old Younes Abouyaaqoub, who media reports say was the driver of a van that smashed into people on Barcelona's busy Las Ramblas boulevard on Thursday.
In perhaps the worst to date, he dealt a crushing blow to his own embattled administration by saying "both sides" were to blame for the bloodshed in Charlottesville, Virginia following a rally by neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
A so-called "free speech" rally by far-right groups had been scheduled to run until 2 pm (1800 GMT), but a half-hour before that police escorted its participants -- whose numbers appeared to be in the dozens -- to safety past a throng of anti-racism protesters.
Comments appearing to trivialize racial hatred have president isolated, even within own party
The accident happened late Friday when around 650 people were celebrating inside the tent in Sankt Johann am Walde in the north of the country.
The Trump administration, wary of international involvements but eager for progress in the grueling Afghan war, has been weighing a range of options. It had originally promised a new plan by mid-July.