Third asylum seeker boat intercepted since the Federal Election

Australian border authorities have reportedly intercepted a third asylum seeker boat heading towards Australia with the number of passengers onboard not yet known. 

A third asylum seeker boat has been intercepted near Australian waters in the three weeks since the Federal Election.

The boat was intercepted near the Australian territory of Cocos (Keeling) Island, according to a report by The Australian.

Sources told the publication HMAS Melville helped intercept the boat after the vessel they were travelling aboard set fire on Friday morning.

It is not known how many passengers were onboard or if they are part of a group of 42 asylum seekers to have left Sri Lanka for Australia in May.

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The latest interception comes one week after Australian Border officers stopped a second boat travelling from Sri Lanka.   

The vessel left the country – which is currently facing an economic crisis – on May 21 with 15 men aged between 20 to 30-years-old on board.

During the dangerous journey, the fish trawler’s engine had stalled, leaving them drifting in the ocean before it was intercepted by Australian officers this week on June 6 or 7 under Operation Sovereign Borders.

The group were then taken to Christmas Island in the early hours of Thursday morning where they were processed and sent back on a government-chartered plane.

Thirty guards, health officials, officers and contractors accompanied the Sri Lankan men on the journey back to Colombo.

They were handed over to Sri Lanka’s Criminal Investigation Department, a police investigation unit based at the airport.

Senior Sri Lankan military officials – who have been trying to help Australia stop the vessels before they leave the country – argued a new strategy was needed to prevent locals from making the treacherous trip.

“Human smugglers are exploiting the current economic crisis in the country to lure people with hardships to smuggle to Australia,” they told the publication.

“People should not take this dangerous journey.”

The Australian Border Force told the Australian on Monday that no person travelling illegally to Australia would be granted entry.

“Australian government policy is steadfast: people who travel illegally to Australia by boat will not settle permanently here,” it said.

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