The Tunisian coast guard recovered 17 bodies of irregular migrants and rescued 97 others after their boats capsized off the coast of eastern Sfax city, a judicial official said on Sunday.
Sfax court spokesman Murad al-Turki told Anadolu Agency that four boats carrying around 120 irregular migrants, most of whom wanted to go to Europe from Sub-Saharan countries, sank off the coast of Sfax.
Search and rescue efforts continue to find the remaining migrants, he added.
On April 21, the Tunisian Interior Ministry announced that 3,162 irregular migrants were detained and 205 irregular migration attempts were blocked since the beginning of this year.
For years, Maghreb countries such as Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, and Morocco have witnessed attempts by irregular migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, to reach Europe, hoping for a better life. While some of the migrants manage to reach their destination, others often die during the journey.