Australia intercepts boat of suspected refugees

April 16, 2009 02:14

Australia's navy has intercepted a boatload of suspected asylum seekers in the Indian Ocean and is transporting them to a detention center to conduct security checks and process any refugee claims. It is the sixth boat to illegally enter Australian waters this year. Minister for Home Affairs Bob Debus said in a statement Wednesday that the vessel was located two nautical miles west of Ashmore reef that morning. Their nationalities were not yet known. The increase in boat numbers has sparked debate in Australia over whether an easing of strict immigration regulations last year has emboldened people smugglers and would-be refugees. Most of the asylum seekers who come by boat from Indonesia are from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq.

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