An Italian vessel intervened to support two Italian fishing boats on Thursday that were sailing in international waters north of Benghazi after a Libyan patrol approached them, Nova agency has reported.

Italy's defence ministry said the frigate (Grecale) acted after receiving a distress call from the Italian fishermen.

The vessel, affiliated to the Italian navy, contacted the Libyan patrol and insisted that the two fishing boats were outside the borders of the fisheries protection zone declared by the Libyan side.

The fishermen said the Libyan side fired several warning shots in the air that did not cause any injuries or damage.

The Libyan patrol left the area after the Italian vessel arrived at the spot carrying a medical team and members from the Marina San Marco Brigade.

Nova confirmed that the Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini was briefed on the developments of the situation.

On Friday, Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese commented on the incident, saying that it was "not an isolated incident"

Lamorgese described these developments as "a very difficult geopolitical situation" as there is no government in full power in Libya, as she put it.