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.
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 but a fifth person was 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 a minor (17 years old) and a woman from Eritrea. There were conflicting reports about the dead woman’s nationality, but they agree she was African. It wasn't known what happened to the other six people who tried to cross, but authorities don't believe they entered Greece.
The coroner examining the woman's body in the northeastern city of Alexandroupolis made a preliminary report that she died of a bullet wound to the back, with the shot coming from a very short distance and from a small-caliber weapon. The police officer said that Greek police don't use such weapons.
The coroner’s final report hadn't been issued as of Sunday afternoon.
Demetris Nellas reported from Athens, Greece.
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Costas Kantouris And Demetris Nellas, The Associated Press