Thursday 29 September 2016

Macedonian police shoot stun grenades at migrant families stuck in no-man's land

Dusan Stojanovic in Athens

Published 22/08/2015 | 02:30

A migrant man holding a boy react as they are stuck between Macedonian riot police officers and migrants during a clash near the border train station of Idomeni, northern Greece, as they wait to be allowed by the Macedonian police to cross the border from Greece to Macedonia, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. Macedonian special police forces have fired stun grenades to disperse thousands of migrants stuck on a no-man's land with Greece, a day after Macedonia declared a state of emergency on its borders to deal with a massive influx of migrants heading north to Europe. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
A migrant man holding a boy react as they are stuck between Macedonian riot police officers and migrants during a clash near the border train station of Idomeni, northern Greece, as they wait to be allowed by the Macedonian police to cross the border from Greece to Macedonia, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. Macedonian special police forces have fired stun grenades to disperse thousands of migrants stuck on a no-man's land with Greece, a day after Macedonia declared a state of emergency on its borders to deal with a massive influx of migrants heading north to Europe. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
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Migrants clash with Macedonian police at the Greek-Macedonian border near the town of Idomeni, northern Greece, on August 21, 2015. Macedonian police have reinforced control at the border with Greece in a bid to stop the influx of migrants, but a few hundred Syrians managed to cross the frontier overnight into August 21. Police prevented reporters to access a no-man's land where on August 20, officers had been in a standoff with about 1,500 migrants and refugees who wanted to cross into Macedonia. AFP PHOTO /SAKIS MITROLIDISSAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP/Getty Images
Migrants wait to pass the Greek-Macedonian border guarded by Macedonian police near the town of Idomeni, northern Greece, on August 21, 2015. Macedonian police have reinforced control at the border with Greece in a bid to stop the influx of migrants, but a few hundred Syrians managed to cross the frontier overnight into August 21. Police prevented reporters to access a no-man's land where on August 20, officers had been in a standoff with about 1,500 migrants and refugees who wanted to cross into Macedonia. AFP PHOTO /SAKIS MITROLIDISSAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP/Getty Images
A migrant girlclashes with a Macedonian police officer near the town of Idomeni, northern Greece, on August 21, 2015. Macedonian police have reinforced control at the border with Greece in a bid to stop the influx of migrants, but a few hundred Syrians managed to cross the frontier overnight into August 21. Police prevented reporters to access a no-man's land where on August 20, officers had been in a standoff with about 1,500 migrants and refugees who wanted to cross into Macedonia. AFP PHOTO /SAKIS MITROLIDISSAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP/Getty Images
Migrants attempt to pass the Greek-Macedonian border guarded by Macedonian police near the town of Idomeni, northern Greece, on August 21, 2015. Macedonian police have reinforced control at the border with Greece in a bid to stop the influx of migrants, but a few hundred Syrians managed to cross the frontier overnight into August 21. Police prevented reporters to access a no-man's land where on August 20, officers had been in a standoff with about 1,500 migrants and refugees who wanted to cross into Macedonia. AFP PHOTO /SAKIS MITROLIDISSAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP/Getty Images
Migrants wait to cross the Macedonian-Greek border near the town of Gevgelija on August 21, 2015. At least five migrants were slightly hurt August 21 when Macedonian police threw noise grenades to drive back refugees from the country's border with Greece, an AFP photographer at the scene said. More than 3,000 mostly Syrian refugees are stuck in no-man's land near the Greek village of Eidomeni after Macedonia August 20 declared a state of emergency and sent troops to help stem the flow of migrants attempting to cross the Balkan country to reach northern Europe. AFP PHOTO / ROBERT ATANASOVSKIROBERT ATANASOVSKI/AFP/Getty Images
A migrant with a child attempts to pass the Greek-Macedonian border, guarded by Macedonian police near the town of Idomeni, northern Greece, on August 21, 2015. Macedonian police have reinforced control at the border with Greece in a bid to stop the influx of migrants, but a few hundred Syrians managed to cross the frontier overnight into August 21. Police prevented reporters to access a no-man's land where on August 20, officers had been in a standoff with about 1,500 migrants and refugees who wanted to cross into Macedonia. AFP PHOTO /SAKIS MITROLIDISSAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP/Getty Images
A migrants woman with childrens wait to pass the Greek-Macedonian border, guarded by Macedonian police near the town of Idomeni, northern Greece, on August 21, 2015. Macedonian police have reinforced control at the border with Greece in a bid to stop the influx of migrants, but a few hundred Syrians managed to cross the frontier overnight into August 21. Police prevented reporters to access a no-man's land where on August 20, officers had been in a standoff with about 1,500 migrants and refugees who wanted to cross into Macedonia. AFP PHOTO /SAKIS MITROLIDISSAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP/Getty Images
Migrants wait to cross the Macedonian-Greek border near the town of Gevgelija on August 21, 2015. At least five migrants were slightly hurt August 21 when Macedonian police threw noise grenades to drive back refugees from the country's border with Greece, an AFP photographer at the scene said. More than 3,000 mostly Syrian refugees are stuck in no-man's land near the Greek village of Eidomeni after Macedonia August 20 declared a state of emergency and sent troops to help stem the flow of migrants attempting to cross the Balkan country to reach northern Europe. AFP PHOTO / ROBERT ATANASOVSKIROBERT ATANASOVSKI/AFP/Getty Images
Migrants wait to cross the Macedonian-Greek border near the town of Gevgelija on August 21, 2015. At least five migrants were slightly hurt August 21 when Macedonian police threw noise grenades to drive back refugees from the country's border with Greece, an AFP photographer at the scene said. More than 3,000 mostly Syrian refugees are stuck in no-man's land near the Greek village of Eidomeni after Macedonia August 20 declared a state of emergency and sent troops to help stem the flow of migrants attempting to cross the Balkan country to reach northern Europe. AFP PHOTO / ROBERT ATANASOVSKIROBERT ATANASOVSKI/AFP/Getty Images
Migrants wait to cross the Greek-Macedonian border near the town of Idomeni, northern Greece on August 21, 2015. At least five migrants were slightly hurt August 21 when Macedonian police threw noise grenades to drive back refugees from the country's border with Greece, an AFP photographer at the scene said. More than 3,000 mostly Syrian refugees are stuck in no-man's land near the Greek village of Eidomeni after Macedonia August 20 declared a state of emergency and sent troops to help stem the flow of migrants attempting to cross the Balkan country to reach northern Europe. AFP PHOTO / SAKIS MITROLIDISSAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP/Getty Images
A baby sleeps in a tent while migrants wait to cross the Greek-Macedonian border near the town of Idomeni, northern Greece on August 21, 2015. At least five migrants were slightly hurt August 21 when Macedonian police threw noise grenades to drive back refugees from the country's border with Greece, an AFP photographer at the scene said. More than 3,000 mostly Syrian refugees are stuck in no-man's land near the Greek village of Eidomeni after Macedonia August 20 declared a state of emergency and sent troops to help stem the flow of migrants attempting to cross the Balkan country to reach northern Europe. AFP PHOTO / SAKIS MITROLIDISSAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP/Getty Images
Migrants wait to cross the Macedonian-Greek border near the town of Gevgelija on August 21, 2015. At least five migrants were slightly hurt August 21 when Macedonian police threw noise grenades to drive back refugees from the country's border with Greece, an AFP photographer at the scene said. More than 3,000 mostly Syrian refugees are stuck in no-man's land near the Greek village of Eidomeni after Macedonia August 20 declared a state of emergency and sent troops to help stem the flow of migrants attempting to cross the Balkan country to reach northern Europe. AFP PHOTO / ROBERT ATANASOVSKIROBERT ATANASOVSKI/AFP/Getty Images
Migrants wait to pass the Greek-Macedonian border, guarded by Macedonian police near the town of Idomeni, northern Greece, on August 21, 2015. Macedonian police have reinforced control at the border with Greece in a bid to stop the influx of migrants, but a few hundred Syrians managed to cross the frontier overnight into August 21. Police prevented reporters to access a no-man's land where on August 20, officers had been in a standoff with about 1,500 migrants and refugees who wanted to cross into Macedonia. AFP PHOTO /SAKIS MITROLIDISSAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP/Getty Images
A migrant woman with children waits to pass the Greek-Macedonian border, guarded by Macedonian police near the town of Idomeni, northern Greece, on August 21, 2015. Macedonian police have reinforced control at the border with Greece in a bid to stop the influx of migrants, but a few hundred Syrians managed to cross the frontier overnight into August 21. Police prevented reporters to access a no-man's land where on August 20, officers had been in a standoff with about 1,500 migrants and refugees who wanted to cross into Macedonia. AFP PHOTO /SAKIS MITROLIDISSAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP/Getty Images
Migrants hold up an injured individual after clashes with Macedonian police near the town of Idomeni on the Greek -Macedonian border on August 21, 2015. Macedonian police have reinforced control at the border with Greece in a bid to stop the influx of migrants, but a few hundred Syrians managed to cross the frontier overnight into August 21. Police prevented reporters to access a no-man's land where on August 20, officers had been in a standoff with about 1,500 migrants and refugees who wanted to cross into Macedonia. AFP PHOTO /SAKIS MITROLIDISSAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP/Getty Images
Migrants rest while waiting to pass the Greek-Macedonian border, guarded by Macedonian police near the town of Idomeni, northern Greece, on August 21, 2015. Macedonian police have reinforced control at the border with Greece in a bid to stop the influx of migrants, but a few hundred Syrians managed to cross the frontier overnight into August 21. Police prevented reporters to access a no-man's land where on August 20, officers had been in a standoff with about 1,500 migrants and refugees who wanted to cross into Macedonia. AFP PHOTO /SAKIS MITROLIDISSAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP/Getty Images

Macedonian police fired stun grenades yesterday to disperse thousands of migrants stuck in a no-man's land with Greece.

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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."

Irish Independent

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