Migrants, Police Clash at Greek Border

Migrants, Police Clash at Greek Border

IDOMENI, Greece (AP) -- Migrants clashed with Macedonian police Sunday after trying to scale the fence separating Greece from Macedonia in the border town of Idomeni.

Macedonian police used tear gas, stun grenades, plastic bullets and later a water cannon in attempts to keep the migrants at bay and they responded by throwing rocks at the police. Twice, migrants tried to breach the fence but were pushed back. Greek police were standing by, not interfering.

Clashes continued into the afternoon, and the wind brought tear gas fumes into a nearby makeshift camp on the Greek side of the border holding over 11,000 stranded migrants. Many people, including small children, who were not involved in the clashes, were suffering from respiratory problems.

Volunteer doctors were treating several dozen migrants with respiratory problems, slight injuries from the plastic bullets and facial injuries from close quarter clashes when the fence was temporarily breached, Achilleas Tzemos, deputy field coordinator of Doctors Without Borders told The Associated Press. He said three were referred to hospitals.

The clashes began soon after some 500 migrants gathered close to the fence. Activists had distributed fliers, in Arabic, Saturday, calling for the migrants to gather at the fence Sunday morning. A delegation of five migrants asked Macedonian police whether the border was about to open. When Macedonian police denied this, over a hundred migrants, including several children, tried to scale the fence.

Macedonia and other Balkan countries to its north have shut their borders, closing what was the busiest migrant route to central Europe. The European Union has since put an end to the hopes of many migrants, saying it would only accept war refugees from Syria and Iraq as well as those from other countries who are eligible for asylum.