Sicilian police have arrested 15 people, alleging that they threw 12 migrants overboard from a boat that left Libya on Tuesday.
In a statement, authorities said that Muslim migrants targeted Christians, and the suspects are accused of multiple homicide aggravated by religious hatred, The Associated Press reports. Survivors from Nigeria and Ghana who were rescued at sea told police Wednesday that they boarded a rubber boat with passengers from Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali, and Guinea-Bissau. About 105 people were onboard, they said, and those thought to be Christian were threatened with being abandoned at sea. Eventually, a dozen were pushed into the water.
Flavio di Giacomo of the International Organization for Migration said that while fights do sometimes break out on boats filled with migrants, it's rare for people to be killed, and it's usually the result of a "battle for survival," he told The Guardian. The prosecutor has 48 hours to validate the arrests.