TUNIS, June 4 (Xinhua) -- The number of illegal immigrants killed after their boat sank off the southeastern coast of Tunisia on Sunday has risen to 58, the spokesman of Ministry of the Interior Khalifa Chibani said on Monday.
According to Chibani, the victims included 31 Tunisians, 22 foreigners, and the rest remaining unidentified.
Relief operations in coordination with the army, as well as units of the Maritime Guard, have so far rescued 68 illegal immigrants, including 60 Tunisians and 8 foreigners.
Chibani said that Tunisian security forces intercepted eight individuals involved in planning the case off the island of Kerkennah on Saturday evening.
Kerkennah is known as one of the main illegal gateways to Europe from Tunisia. Since the beginning of this year, about 1,910 Tunisian migrants have reached Italy by sea, according to the International Organization for Migration.
The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights said in a study that 9,329 Tunisians attempted to cross the Mediterranean in 2017, with 34 percent intercepted by Tunisian maritime forces.
According to Chibani, so far, no less than 900 illegal immigrants have been prevented from crossing Tunisian maritime borders since the beginning of this year's Ramadan, which began on May 17.