Serbian police break up people-smuggling gang, find migrants

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia’s police broke up a people-smuggling gang near the border with Hungary early on Tuesday, and found various weapons and hundreds of passports and other documents taken from migrants trying to reach Western Europe, officials said.

Police also discovered 120 migrants, including women and children, during the operation in the area of Mali Horgos, a statement said.

Tuesday’s operation is the second this month against people-smugglers along the border with Serbia’s European Union neighbor Hungary. Stepped-up police activity has followed a clash in the area in early July that left one person dead.

Police said they found both firearms and other weapons with the smugglers.

“Any human being on our territory has the right to be respected, and to dignity,” said Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin.

People fleeing violence or poverty in the Middle East, Africa or Asia have been stranded by the Hungarian border hoping to cross from the Balkan country and move further west.

Sneaking over Serbia’s northern border often takes months because Hungary has put up two rows of barbed wire fence and deployed heavy security. Migrants therefore often turn to people-smugglers in order to continue their journey toward the EU’s more prosperous nations.

Migrants routinely face perils on their long journeys toward better lives. From Serbia, migrants also cross into Croatia, Bosnia or Romania.

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Follow AP’s coverage of migration issues at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

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