Istanbul — Turkish authorities found seven more bodies near the Turkish-Greek border on Thursday, increasing the number of migrants frozen to 19 at the frontier.
Turkey has accused Greece of its death and that Greek border guards have illegally pushed migrants back across the border. Greece strongly rejected the accusations.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed on Thursday to reveal what he said was an illegal backlash against Greek immigrants.
Turkey’s interior minister said Wednesday that 12 illegal immigrants died after being pushed back into Turkey. One of the immigrants was found alive, but later died in the hospital. There was no information about the nationality of immigrants.
A statement from the Governor’s Office in the border area of Edirne said seven more bodies were found on Thursday. The state-run Anadolu Agency said military police are searching the area with the help of drones and medical teams are waiting.
Turkey is a major crossroads for illegal immigrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa seeking a way to the European Union countries.
Most people try to cross the northeastern border or stuff them into smugglers to the islands of the eastern Aegean Sea to reach Greece, the main gateway to the EU for illegal immigrants.
Prime Minister Erdogan told reporters before leaving for his visit to Ukraine, accusing the EU’s border guard, Frontex, of “supporting” Greece.
Greek immigration minister Notis Mitarachis described death as a “tragedy” on Wednesday, but strongly denied allegations that Greek troops pushed the immigrants back, claiming that the immigrants did not reach the border.
He also accused Turkey of making “these dangerous journeys” because it could not prevent migrants from approaching the border area.