Turkish soldiers killed nine illegal immigrants and wounded five when they opened fire on a group trying to cross into Turkey from Iran, the interior ministry said Wednesday.
The incident occurred late Tuesday near the northern tip of the Turkish-Iranian border close to the eastern town of Dogubeyazit, the ministry said in a written statement.
Turkish troops opened fire on a group of 153 Afghan, Bangladeshi and Pakistani immigrants when they refused to obey verbal warnings to stop, it added.
The statement did not specify the nationality of those killed, but said the injured included two Afghans, two Bangladeshis and one Pakistani.
The remaining 139 immigrants were detained.
The Anatolia news agency had earlier identified the immigrants as Afghans escaping from the hardline Islamic Taliban militia in power in their country.
The agency quoted anonymous Turkish officials as saying that the immigrants had paid 700 dollars each to an Iranian gang to smuggle them into Turkey.
A second group of would-be immigrants, among them 40 Iraqis and six Afghans, were seized in the eastern province of Bitlis on buses bound for Istanbul, Anatolia reported.
The agency did not specify from which country they had crossed into Turkey.
Turkey, which acts as a major transit route for illegal immigrants from Asia in search of a better life in Europe, has often been criticized in the past by western European countries for failing to curb the influx of immigrants -- ANKARA (AFP).
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)