Bulgarian Police Use Water Cannons in Clashes With Migrants

  • Refugees protest quarantine at camp, throw rocks at police
  • Authorities detain 200 people in clashes, 14 officers hurt

Bulgarian police detained more than 200 people in clashes at a refugee camp in the southern city of Harmanli near the Turkish border after migrants, mostly from Afghanistan, tried to violate a quarantine imposed earlier this week.

About 2,000 migrants angry after authorities put restrictions on the camp over a suspected scabies outbreak, threw rocks at police, set tires on fire and broke windows, the Interior Ministry in Sofia said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday. Police used water cannons and rubber bullets to restore order, the ministry said. Two migrants and 14 policemen were hurt. Authorities are negotiating with the refugees, and firemen and a medical team are on site.

“These people destroyed public property and threatened the health and lives of the policemen,” Interior Ministry Secretary General Georgi Kostov said in a live report on Nova TV from Harmanli. “The police will remain on site to maintain order.”

Bulgaria has so far remained on the sidelines of Europe’s worst migration crisis since World War II. It is setting up a razor-wire fence along its 260-kilometer (162-mile) frontier with Turkey. The parliament allowed joint army and police patrols to strengthen control of the borders with Turkey, Greece and Macedonia as other countries closed their borders to migrants seeking refuge in western Europe amid continuing war in Syria.

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