Croatia police say 1 killed in chase with people smugglers

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — One person was killed and several were injured when two cars used by suspected people smugglers to carry migrants crashed during a police chase, Croatian authorities said on Tuesday.

Police late on Monday spotted two vehicles with Austrian and Hungarian license plates near the central town of Velika Gorica, according to a police statement, which said the drivers ignored signals to stop.

While trying to escape both cars skidded off the road into a forest — one after crashing into parked police cars — the statement added. A passenger in one of the cars was killed and a police trainee and several migrants were hurt.

Police said the migrants in the vehicles escaped into the forest, but were later found and have been treated in a local hospital for injuries. The statement did not say how many migrants were there.

People fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa or Asia seek passage through Croatia while trying to reach Western Europe. Many turn to people smugglers to take them over the borders and across countries illegally.

Thousands of migrants remain stranded in the Balkans while waiting for a chance to move on. Croatian police have faced allegations of using violence against migrants trying to enter the country from Bosnia, which they have denied.

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