At least five security officials and activists based in Sabratha said the militiamen were known to be behind smuggling of migrants.
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Under a deal backed by Italy, Libya's struggling government in Tripoli has paid militias implicated in trafficking to now prevent migrants from crossing the Mediterranean to Europe, one reason for a dramatic drop in the traffic, militia and security officials told the Associated Press.The militias, one known as "Al-Ammu" and the other as Brigade 48, are headed by two brothers from the area's large Dabashi family.Bashir Ibrahim, the spokesman for Al-Ammu militia, said that a month ago the two forces reached a "verbal" agreement with the Italian government and Sarraj's government to combat trafficking.However, the official integration of the two militias into Sarraj's security forces would allow Italy to work directly with the forces since they would not be considered militias or traffickers but part of the recognized government.The security officials and activists in Sabratha interviewed by the AP said Italy struck the deal directly with the militias and that Italian officials had met with militia leaders.The security official said Italian intelligence and leaders from the militias met and struck a deal with no government representation involved.Two activists also reported the deal and said the militias had taken over Sabratha's prison to house migrants and was setting up a runway at the hospital to receive Italian aid.
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