March 4, 2020 / 2:10 PM / a month ago

Turkey says Greek forces kill migrant at border, Athens denies claim

EDIRNE, Turkey (Reuters) - Turkish officials said Greek forces killed a migrant and wounded five others on Wednesday as they tried to cross the border between the two countries, a claim rejected by Greece as “utterly fake news”.

A doctor at a hospital in Edirne, near Greece, said his emergency ward received six patients from the border, one of whom had died at the scene. Reuters spoke to three patients who all said they had been fired at by Greek police.

Turkey, alarmed by the prospect of another wave of refugees fleeing war in northwest Syria, said last week it will no longer uphold a 2016 deal with the European Union to keep hundreds of thousands of migrants on its soil in return for EU aid.

Since then, more than 10,000 migrants - mostly from Syria, other Middle Eastern states and Afghanistan - have massed on the Greek border hoping to get to western Europe. Greek security forces have used tear gas to stop them crossing.

Two Turkish security officials and the local governor’s office in Edirne said the migrant had died in hospital from a chest wound after Greek police and border guards fired live ammunition near the crossing at Pazarkule. They said five others had suffered head and leg wounds.

Mustafa Burak Sayhan, a doctor at the Edirne hospital, said the emergency ward had received patients with various firearm wounds, adding that one of them had already died at the border.

“One has damage to the skull and there is a bullet inside. Of the others, two have gunshot wounds to the lower extremities and one to the upper extremities,” he said

The fifth patient suffered a fractured nose from a blow, Sayhan said. All five were continuing to receive treatment at the hospital, one of them in intensive care.

“WE THREW STONES”

Three patients to whom Reuters spoke at the hospital said Greek police had opened fire on the migrants at the border.

“We threw stones at them as they didn’t open the border. Then they fired tear gas. Because the tear gas was not effective, they got out rifles and shot us with the rifles,” said Adel Jaberi, a migrant from Iran.

Another patient, 22-year-old Alaedin Nizami from Afghanistan, said he had tried three times to cross over to Greece in recent days. “A soldier came but did not give a reaction, like ‘don’t cross’. There was an immediate attack,” Nizami said, adding that he was shot in the foot.

Greece has denied shooting at the migrants or killing or injuring any of them.

“The Turkish side creates and disperses fake news targeted against Greece. Today they created yet another such falsehood, with injured people supposedly by Greek fire. I categorically deny it,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters.

“I confirm once more my previous denial: there is no such incident with fire from the Greek authorities,” he said.

On Tuesday Greece also denied a Turkish assertion that Greek forces killed three migrants trying to cross the border.

Additional reporting by Yesim Dikmen, Orhan Coskun and George Georgiopoulos; Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun and Daren Butler; Editing by Gareth Jones

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