Greek border police say shots fired from Turkey killed refugee

EVROS – A migrant trying to cross the Evros River into Greece has been found dead after Greek border guards said there was a gunfight from the Turkish side near a place where smugglers were trying to sneak people in.

It’s not immediately clear who fired the shot that killed the woman, but an autopsy revealed she was struck in the back with a small-caliber weapon after the incident came as Greece denied the claims refoulement of refugees.

Greek police were patrolling the area where the treacherous river narrows about 200 feet wide, currents so fast that dozens of people have died in the past seven years trying to cross Greece.

Turkey has failed to stop smugglers from continuing to transport refugees and migrants across land and sea borders to five Greek islands near the Turkish coast, despite an essentially suspended 2016 swap deal with the EU European.

Turkey is believed to contain some 4.4 million people who have traveled there to flee war, conflict and economic hardship in their home countries, mostly from Syria and Afghanistan, but also from sub-Saharan Africa. and other regions.

They started arriving in 2015 but after the EU closed its borders to them they had to try to enter mainly Greece, Spain, Italy and Malta and the river crossing is still in use despite patrols and Greek fences.

Unidentified police told The Associated Press that they saw many refugees on the Turkish side on the night of April 16 and that 11 of them got into a dinghy and tried to cross.

Greek border guards said they shone flashlights at them and shouted, “Police, back off!” They said this was followed by a barrage of fire from the Turkish side, but it was not stated who fired.

The Greek police patrol could not detect the source of the shots in the darkness and fell to the ground for cover, firing warning shots into the air, according to the statement which the officer corroborated.

There was no immediate comment on the incident from the Turkish side, but Greek public broadcaster ERT said the woman was from Africa and her wound indicated she had been shot with a gun which is not normally used by Greek border police, suggesting that her smuggler may have shot her.

The rescued people, including a child, told authorities, according to a Greek police statement, that they had paid 2,000 euros ($2,158) each to smugglers from Istanbul to transport them to Athens, the report said. Agence France-Presse (AFP).

After large numbers of migrants attempted to cross the Evros River from Turkey in March 2020, Greece stepped up border patrols and installed cameras, radar and a steel fence 40 kilometers (25 miles) longer five meters (16 feet) high in the area where shootings are occurring, the site said.

“A group of ten people was found trying to enter Greek territory by boat from the Soufli region,” a police spokesman for the East Macedonia-Thrace region told AFP. .

“The Greek police signaled them to stop but they did not obey. Gunshots were heard from the Turkish side. Greek border guards fired in the air to protect themselves,” the spokesperson told the news agency.

Sharon P. Juarez