The Australian navy has driven illegal immigrants from Africa and the Middle East into Indonesian waters, an Indonesian police officer said in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, on Monday.
The 45 boat people, including nine women, were from Sudan, Eritrea, Somali, Ghana, Egypt, Yemen and Lebanon.
As they were about to enter Australian waters on Monday, they were immediately forced into Indonesian waters, Rote Ndao Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Hidayat said.
Hidayat said that local police picked them up after they became stranded on nearby islands.
They have been taken into police custody in Rote Ndao, Hidayat said as reported by Antara news agency.
The Australian navy provided the illegal immigrants with life vests and communication equipment before repelling them into Indonesian waters, one of the boat people told Hidayat.