Boat carrying refugees, believed to be Iraqis, reaches Australian island

April 9, 2009 05:39


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A boatload of suspected Iraqi asylum seekers skirted border patrols and landed Wednesday on a remote Australian island, officials said, becoming the third group of people to reach the country's territorial waters in a week. The opposition Liberal Party says the increase in boat arrivals is a result of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's relaxation of the country's refugee policy last July. While the small boat slipped into Flying Fish Cove overnight, an Australian Border Protection Command vessel was about two nautical miles (3.7 kilometers) off Christmas Island waiting to unload 63 suspected refugees who had been picked up from another boat in Australian waters last week. Christmas Island, about 1,000 kilometers from mainland Australia, has a processing and detention center for people believed to be seeking asylum who try to reach Australia by boat. A Customs official said the people on the boat included women and children and were believed to be Iraqis.

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