Tunisia recovers bodies of four migrants off its coast, rescues dozens

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisia recovered the bodies of four migrants off the country's coast on Saturday, the national guard said, amid an increase in migrant boats heading from Tunisia toward Italy in recent weeks.

The force said the coast guard separately rescued 52 migrants.‮ ‬The national guard arrested nine smugglers, and boats were seized.

At least 23 Tunisian migrants were missing‮ ‬after setting off in a boat for Italy, the national guard said‮ ‬earlier on Saturday.

Tunisia is facing a migration crisis and has replaced Libya as the main departure point for people fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East in the hope of a better life in Europe.

(Reporting By Tunisian newsroom and Ahmed Tolba in Cairo; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)