Poland detains 100 migrants at border, says Belarus helped intruders
The Polish army says it has detained some 100 migrants who had illegally crossed into Poland from Belarus overnight, accusing the Belarusian army of helping them make the intrusion.
In a statement on Thursday, the Polish Defense Ministry alleged that Belarusian forces had first conducted reconnaissance and “most likely” damaged the barbed wire fence along the common border. It claimed that the Belarusian troops then forced another group of migrants to hurl stones at Polish border guards in a bid to distract them as “the attempt to cross the border took place several hundred meters away.”
“A group of about 100 migrants was detained,” the Polish army said, adding that the incident had happened in the vicinity of the village of Dubicze Cerkiewne.
“Belarusian special forces led yesterday’s attack,” the statement alleged.
Minsk has not yet commented on the accusation.
For weeks, thousands of migrants have been stranded at Belarus’ border with Poland as the latter has closed the frontier and prevented them from crossing over. The migrants, mostly from the West Aisa, Afghanistan, and Africa, are camped out or staying close to the flashpoint border in dire conditions trying to enter the European Union (EU).
The Belarusian leader, whose government says it wants to resolve the crisis, has spoken to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the crisis twice in recent days.
On Wednesday, Lukashenko’s press service said he and the German leader had “agreed that the problem as a whole will be brought up to the level of Belarus and the EU.”
“Relevant officials, to be determined from both sides, will immediately start negotiations to resolve the existing problems,” it added.
At least 11 migrants have lost their lives since the crisis began in the summer, aid groups say, calling for a de-escalation and a humanitarian response to the problem.