ATHENS – While fending off allegations of pushing back refugees and migrants, Greece’s Coast Guard said it caught two speedboats carrying 37 of them off the island of Kos, near Turkey’s coast, and arrested three alleged human traffickers.
Coast Guard officials said both vessels ignored warnings to stop and attempted to ram the a patrol ship but were stopped when warning shots were fired in the air, said the Italian news agency ANSAmed.
One of the boats was carrying 20 migrants and two alleged traffickers, while the other had 17 migrants and another suspected trafficker on board, said the report, the incident coming as Greece is under criticism for keeping out asylum seekers.
Kos is one of five islands near Turkey’s coast that are targets of the traffickers that Turkey is allowing to keep operating in violation of an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union.
Greek police said they broke a criminal gang smuggling migrants packed into trucks from across the Turkish border at a cost of 4,000 euros ($4,329 each) and that seven suspects were arrested and another 20 identified, the the news agency said.