Po­lice re­in­force­ments sent to Kos

Mi­grants clash with of­fi­cers as ten­sions peak on the is­land amid ris­ing in­flux

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The Greek Po­lice (ELAS) has sent ad­di­tional of­fi­cers to the eastern Aegean is­land of Kos to help deal with a bur­geon­ing mi­grant cri­sis there which es­ca­lated into vi­o­lent clashes yesterday.

ELAS chief Dim­itris Tsak­nakis has dis­patched 12 of­fi­cers from the force’s immigration unit to the is­land, in­clud­ing one Arab­s­peak­ing em­ployee, to help ac­cel­er­ate the process of iden­ti­fy­ing some 7,000 im­mi­grants there, most be­lieved to be Syr­ian.

Lo­cal author­i­ties al­lo­cated a mu­nic­i­pal gym­na­sium and an old soc­cer field for of­fi­cers to in­ter­view the im­mi­grants and is­sue them with doc­u­ments al­low­ing them to re­main in the coun­try for six months. The of­fi­cers ar­rived on the is­land on Mon­day and had in­ter­viewed around 750 mi­grants by late last night, a po­lice source told Kathimerini.

The process of iden­ti­fy­ing the ar­rivals was brusquely in­ter­rupted yesterday when a fra­cas broke out be­tween mi­grants and po­lice of­fi­cers as the for­mer were be­ing trans­ferred to the old soc­cer sta­dium. Po­lice used trun­cheons and even fire ex­tin­guish­ers to keep back the im­mi­grants in an ap­par­ent bid to avert a stam­pede amid a crush to en­ter the sta­dium. Re­spond­ing to the ris­ing ten­sions, ELAS or­dered two riot po­lice units to be flown to the is­land on a C- 130 mil­i­tary trans­port air­craft. Tsak­nakis also or­dered the trans­fer of some 250 ad­di­tional of­fi­cers to be sta­tioned on Kos and other is­lands in the eastern Aegean such as Lesvos and Samos which have been be­sieged by large num­bers of im­mi­grants.

Kos Mayor Gior­gos Kyrit­sis said lo­cal author­i­ties were over­whelmed and warned of “blood­shed if the sit­u­a­tion de­gen­er­ates.”

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