A vessel carrying at least 700 illegal immigrants was intercepted off the Eastern coast of Libya, the coast guard said.

It was one of the largest interceptions in recent months of illegal immigrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean into Europe.

The coast guard said the boat was stopped on Friday just off the Mediterranean town of Moura, 56 miles West of the Eastern city of Benghazi.

In a statement, the coastguard said that the migrants hail from different nations and that those who illegally entered Libya would be returned to their home countries.

The statement did not provide any further details.

The coastguard posted images on their Facebook account showing a large, overcrowded vessel that was full of young fighting aged men.

It was one of the largest interceptions in recent months of illegal immigrants sailing to Europe.

In August last year, Italian military vessels aided a boat packed with 539 illegal immigrants off the southern island of Lampedusa. The boat was launched from Libyan shores.

Libya has in recent years emerged as the dominant transit point for illegal immigrants seeking a way into Europe.

The oil-rich country was plunged into chaos following a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Human traffickers in recent years have benefited from the chaos in Libya, smuggling in illegal immigrants across the country’s lengthy borders. The illegal immigrants are then packed into rubber boats (dinghies) and other vessels and set off on sea voyages towards Europe.

The International Organization for Migration has reported 1,522 dead or missing illegal immigrants in the Mediterranean this year.

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