Tunisian authorities have arrested nine Islamist extremists who attempted to board a rubber boat to reach Italy across the Mediterranean on Monday.

The nine suspected terrorists were part of a group of 15 migrants intercepted by the Tunisian Coast Guard and the counter-terrorist team of Bizerte, in the north of the country. The nine men, aged between 21 and 39, were handed over to the National Guard Unit investigating terrorism for questioning.

In June, Tunisia’s Foreign Ministry made known its displeasure over comments made by Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini, who suggested that the migrants coming from the North African country were not the continent’s best and brightest.

During a local election rally in Sicily for his League party, Mr. Salvini said that Tunisia “isn’t exporting gentlemen, it seems more often they’re exporting convicts.”

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