SOPHIA – An Afghan migrant was shot trying to cross into Bulgaria from Turkey late Thursday and died on his way to a hospital, the interior ministry said.
“A big group of illegal migrants attempted to enter Bulgaria from Turkey. One man suffered a gunshot wound in the incident and died on the way to hospital,” an interior ministry spokeswoman told AFP.
The incident happened near the southeastern Bulgarian town of Sredets Thursday evening, she said, adding that the dead migrant was from Afghanistan.
Public BNR radio cited the interior ministry’s chief of staff, Georgy Kostov, as saying that the group of 50 illegal migrants — all from Afghanistan — was intercepted by a patrol of two border guards and a police officer after crossing into Bulgarian territory.
“They put up resistance during the arrest. One of the officers fired warning shots and, in his words, one of the migrants was wounded by a ricochet and later died,” Kostov told the radio.
He did not confirm initial information that the group was armed.
The Burgas regional prosecution had opened an investigation, Kostov added.
This is the first serious incident with migrants in the European Union’s non-Schengen zone member Bulgaria, which was so far bypassed by them on their way to Western Europe.
In a move to buttress its porous 260-km (160-mile) border with Turkey, Bulgaria built a 30-km razor wire fence along part of it and dispatched some 2,000 border guards, police and army to guard the rest.
The incident prompted Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to leave an EU summit in Brussels on the migrant crisis and fly back home late Thursday.
“Prime Minister Borisov informed me just before he left. It shows how important our discussion was (…) We are ready to help rebuilding of control of our external borders,” European Council President Donald Tusk said in Brussels.