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In a south-eastern city used by human traffickers, Libyan authorities say they have raided a hidden prison and finally released 156 African migrants, including 15 women and five children.

The raid in the town of Kufra took place on 16 February after a migrant managed last week to flee a house-turned-prison and claimed to the authorities that he and other migrants had been captured and tortured there by smugglers, the Kufra security bureau said.

At least six smugglers were detained by security forces and referred on Sunday to prosecutors for further investigation, it said.

The rescued migrants from Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan were taken to a shelter where food, clothes and blankets were given to them.

At least six smugglers were detained by security forces and referred on Sunday to prosecutors for further investigation, it said.

The rescued migrants from Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan were taken to a shelter where food, clothes and blankets were given to them.

Following the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya plunged into turmoil. The country is divided between a capital-based, internationally recognized government, Tripoli, and a competing administration in the east of the country.

The confusion has been exploited by smugglers and desperate families are often packed into ill-equipped rubber boats that stall and founder along the dangerous Mediterranean road.

Thousands drowned along the way, while others ended up being kept in the squalid pens of smugglers or crowded detention centers.

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