|Desperate: Nigerian Muslims on a dinghy carrying around 100 African refugees across the Mediterranean became angry when one Christian passenger began praying for his life (refugees in Sicily pictured)|
When a rubber dinghy carrying around 100 African refugees across the Mediterranean began to sink, a Nigerian Christian prayed for his life in an innocent act that would end in the deaths of 12 fellow migrants. One of the Muslims on board the rickety craft ordered him to stop, saying: 'Here, we only pray to Allah.'
When he refused, a violent fight ensued and 12 Christians drowned when they were thrown overboard by the Muslim refugees. The tragic news comes amid reports that an unprecedented 10,000 refugees fleeing war and persecution in Africa have been rescued by Italian ships in the past week.
|Furious: When he refused to stop, the Muslim migrants threw 12 Christians off the rickety boat (refugees in Sicily pictured)|
|Rescue: Meanwhile another boat transporting migrants arrives at a port in Messina after finding them adrift in the Mediterranean|
|Refugees: These migrants are among the 10,000 refugees fleeing war and persecution in Africa who have been rescued by Italian ships in the past week|
But over 900 making the perilous journey have either died or gone missing since the start of the year and 400 migrants died in two shipwrecks last week. Those who witnessed the African Christians being murdered on the crammed dinghy told investigators how Nigerian Muslims became angry at Christian who started praying.
'They told him that they would throw him overboard if he didn't stop praying to God,' he said, according to La Republica. The witness added: 'They started shouting, two pushed the lad and he fell
in the sea and drowned.'
The Muslims 'went mad' and began screaming "Allah is great" before they attacked migrants who tried to defend the boy, according to The Times. When 12 migrants were mercilessly thrown overboard, the other Christians formed a human chain and protected themselves against the attackers by clinging to the dinghy.
A rescue ship arrived one hour later, according to a Ghanaian witness called Yeboah. Italian police arrested 15 people suspected of the killing including Ousmane
Camar from the Ivory Coast.
|Exodus: The UN said that 23,500 migrants had sailed to Italy (pictured) this year in addition to 12,000 who had sailed to Greece|
|Killer: Italian police arrested 15 people suspected of killing the Christian refugees, including Ousmane |
|Injured: A six-month old baby with severe burns on her face was among traumatised survivors of another sea rescue near Italy's Lampedusa Island on Friday (refugees in Sicily pictured)|
The 21-year-old was identified by the wound on his big toe which he received when a migrant he threw overboard bit him. The boat's passengers reportedly looked distressed when it finally arrived in the port of Palermo in southern-Italy on Wednesday.
- Daily Mail, UK