Misrata (Libya) (AFP) - Libya's coastguard on Sunday intercepted five boats carrying around 500 mostly African migrants trying to reach Europe and brought them back to shore, an official said.
They were transported in buses to detention centres around the city of Misrata, east of the Libyan capital.
"We will try again, for a second time and a third time. We reach Europe or we die," one woman said, asking not to be named.
Colonel Reda Issa told AFP that most of the migrants, brought in on an armed coastguard vessel, were Africans.
The boats were intercepted some eight nautical miles off the coast.
Sunday's incident came as the Italian coastguard rescued more than 2,150 people in the Mediterranean on Sunday a day after saving nearly 3,700.
Several hundred migrants, mostly Africans but also including many fleeing the civil war in Syria, leave Libya every day on rickety boats hoping to make it to Europe.
In April, more than 750 people drowned in the Mediterranean's worst maritime disaster in decades when their boat capsized. Just 26 men and two crew survived.
Since then the European Union has stepped up maritime patrols and rescue operations.
Libya, with a coastline of 1,770 kilometres (more than 1,000 miles), has always been a stepping stone for African migrants seeking a better life in Europe.
Many of the migrants trying to transit Libya take on low-paid construction jobs, sleeping rough at nights, to pay for the hazardous crossings.
People smugglers have taken advantage of the chaos gripping Libya since the 2011 uprising toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi to step up their lucrative smuggling business.