They were handed over to the national guard for processing.

Tunisia and neighbouring Libya are key departure points for migrants seeking to reach European shores, often in poorly-maintained vessels.

The Italian island of Lampedusa is only about 130 kilometres from the Tunisian coast.

Last month, Libyan authorities arrested 542 would-be migrants preparing to depart for Europe in inflatable boats, a security source said.

An AFP photographer said most were originally from Bangladesh.

The International Organization for Migration has said that nearly 2,000 migrants drowned or went missing in the Mediterranean in 2021, compared to 1,401 the previous year.

It is the world’s deadliest migration route, but people hoping to build a better life in Europe increasingly risk it.