Turkey Intercepts 146 Illegal Immigrants
Turkish security forces have intercepted 146 illegal immigrants in northwestern and western Turkey as they were preparing bids to sneak into Europe, the Anatolia news agency reported Sunday.
In the northwestern province of Edirne bordering Greece, paramilitary troops rounded up 86 would-be immigrants who were planning to cross the border and then travel on to different European countries.
The group included Iraqis, Palestinians, Egyptians, Bangladeshis, Syrians, Afghans and Lebanese, the report said.
In the neighboring province of Tekirdag, police found 21 people -- 20 Afghans and a Palestinian -- on a truck which was about to board a ship bound for Italy from a port on the Marmara Sea.
In the western resort town of Cesme on the Aegean coast, five Iraqi nationals who had entered Turkey illegally were detained by police, Anatolia said.
Meanwhile, police in Istanbul detained 34 Afghan nationals in a raid on a flat in the Zeytinburnu district, in the city's European quarter.
Anatolia did not specify whether the group, which had entered Turkey illegally, was meaning to leave Istanbul and travel abroad.
The recent clampdown on illegal immigrants comes in the wake of a tragic sea accident in which a Georgian-registered cargo ship, loaded with an estimated 80 stowaways trying to reach Europe, sank off Turkey's Mediterranean coast after running into a coral reef.
Thirty-two people were rescued after the disaster on Monday, and a Bangladeshi man was pulled alive from the sea on Tuesday.
But Turkish divers have so far recovered only nine bodies and several mutilated body parts.
Turkey is a major transit route for Asians and Africans trying to reach western Europe overland or by boat -- ANKARA (AFP)
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