THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — A migrant was killed by gunfire at the Greece-Turkey border while she and several others attempted to cross a river separating the two countries, Greek police said Sunday.
It wasn’t immediately clear who fired the shot that killed the woman on Saturday night. An autopsy showed that the victim was shot in the back with a small-caliber weapon.
Greek police were patrolling the area where the Evros River, which is called Meric in Turkish, narrows to about 60 to 70 meters (around 200 feet) wide and through which many migrants attempt to cross, according to a police statement and additional information provided to The Associated Press by a police officer on condition of anonymity. The officers spotted numerous migrants on the Turkish side shortly before 9 p.m.
Police said 11 people embarked on an inflatable dinghy, and officers directed flashlights at the boat and started shouting “Police. Go back.” In response, said the police officer, a “barrage” of shots erupted from the Turkish side. The Greek police patrol couldn’t detect the source of the shots in the darkness and fell to the ground to protect themselves, shooting warning shots in the air, according to the statement which the officer corroborated.
The dinghy came close to the Greek shore and five people disembarked — four made it to the shore while a fifth person was seen floating in the water. Police reached the body with some difficulty, according to the statement, and when they pulled it to the shore they determined that it belonged to a woman and that she was dead.
Police questioned the four survivors — three Pakistani males, one of them a minor (17 years old), and a woman from Eritrea. It wasn’t known what happened to the other six people who tried to cross, but authorities don’t believe they entered Greece.
Coroner Pavlos Pavlidis, who performed the autopsy on the woman in the northeastern city of Alexandroupolis, told the AP that the victim was between the ages of 20 and 25 and that she was most likely from one of the Horn of Africa countries.
She had a wound “in the upper right (back) area. She was shot from close distance and died almost instantly from post-hemorrhagic (blood loss) shock,” Pavlidis said.
Demetris Nellas reported from Athens, Greece.