The United Nations says at least 30 African refugees have drowned when their boat capsized off the coast of Yemen this week with reports that their smugglers opened fire on those on board, Press TV reported.
The UN refugee and migration agencies said in a joint statement on Friday that there were at least 152 Somalis and Ethiopians on board the overcrowded boat which departed from Aden in southern Yemen on 23 January.
"The vessel is believed to have been operated by unscrupulous smugglers who were attempting to take refugees and migrants to Djibouti, while also trying to extort more money from these refugees and migrants," the statement added.
The vessel "capsized amid reports of gunfire being used against the passengers", the UN agencies said, adding that it was working with the Yemeni coast guard to try to find out what happened.
"At least 30 people have died in this tragic incident" which occurred near the coast, the statement said.