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April 6, 2007

Yemeni human traffickers drown African migrants

32 migrants drown when forced into sea
SAN'A, Yemen - Human traffickers wielding knives forced about 300 African migrants to jump into the sea off Yemen early Friday, causing at least 32 to drown, a Yemeni security official said.

The migrants, mostly Ethiopians and Somalis, were packed into two rickety boats that had crossed the Gulf of Aden from Somalia when their crews forced them overboard as they approached Yemen's coast, the official said.

Survivors said those who stood up to the crew were stabbed, beaten and thrown overboard, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

The incident is the latest case of abuse of people trying to get to Yemen from the Horn of Africa, where violence has escalated, especially since Ethiopia intervened in the armed struggle between Somalia's U.N.-supported interim government and Islamic groups.

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