Macedonian police shoot stun grenades at migrant families stuck in no-man's land
Macedonian police fired stun grenades yesterday to disperse thousands of migrants stuck in a no-man's land with Greece.
The flashpoint came a day after Macedonia's government declared a state of emergency on the border to halt a human tide heading north to the European Union.
About 3,000 migrants who spent the night in the open made several attempts to charge the police - and some hurled stones at the Macedonian forces. At least eight people were injured in the melee, according to Greek police.
Machine-gun-toting police backed by armoured vehicles spread coils of razor wire over rail tracks used by migrants to cross on foot from Greece to Macedonia. On Thursday, Macedonia shut the border to crossings.
Hours after yesterday's clashes, however, Macedonian police started letting small groups of families with children cross the border by walking along railway tracks to a station in the Macedonian town of Gevgelija, where most take trains to the border with Serbia.
"They are letting groups of about 30-40 people go, probably because they want to control the rush into Macedonia," said a Syrian who gave only his first name, Hassan. He was walking with his family and children over a rusty bridge toward Gevgelija. "I think they'll let all of us go eventually."
Among the injured was a youngster who was bleeding from what appeared to be shrapnel from the stun grenades that were fired directly into the crowd.
A man holding a baby got entangled in razor wire separating the two sides.
The migrants, many with babies and young children, spent the chilly and windy night in a dusty field on the border without food and with little water. Some ate corn they picked from nearby fields.
"I don't know why are they doing this to us," said Mohammad Wahid, an Iraqi. "I don't have passport or identity documents. I cannot return and have nowhere to go. I will stay here till the end."