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Turkey 'detains 1,300 migrants' in sweep at crossing point to Greece

Published 30/11/2015

Afghan refugees walk on a beach after their arrival from the Turkish coast to the north-eastern Greek island of Lesbos (AP)
Afghan refugees walk on a beach after their arrival from the Turkish coast to the north-eastern Greek island of Lesbos (AP)

Authorities in north-west Turkey have rounded up some 1,300 migrants allegedly preparing to make their way into Greece, according to reports.

Some 750 migrants were detained in a pre-dawn sweep in the town of Ayvacik, in Canakkale province, which is a main crossing point to the Greek island of Lesbos, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

By the afternoon, authorities had detained 550 more people, some of whom were trying to hide in olive groves.

The migrants were put into buses and taken to a small detention centre for foreigners awaiting deportation, the Dogan news agency said.

The move came a day after Turkey and EU leaders sealed a joint summit with a commitment to re-energise Turkey's long-stalled membership bid and bolster their resolve to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis.

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International slammed the reports of detentions, calling them "alarming but not surprising."

"Ever since September, we have seen the Turkish authorities detaining scores of refugees, often completely incommunicado, and forcibly returning them to neighboring Syria and Iraq. This is as illegal as it is unconscionable," said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty's Turkey researcher.

In the wake of this weekend's EU-Turkey migration talks, it's a stain on the EU's conscience too."

Anadolu said the migrants were from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

Four suspected smugglers were also detained in the sweep while four migrant boats and six boat motors were seized.

During the sweep, authorities also discovered a body which had washed up on the shore, suspected to be that of a migrant.

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