ANKARA — The bodies of 12 migrants who froze to death were found near Turkey’s border with Greece, the Turkish interior minister said Wednesday, accusing Greek border guards of pushing them back over the frontier.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said tweeted that the 12 were among 22 migrants who were pushed back into Turkey by Greek border guards. He said they were found near the Ipsala border crossing between Turkey and Greece “without shoes and stripped of their clothes.”
The minister didn’t provide further details, but shared blurred photographs of eight of the recovered bodies, including three in shorts and T-shirts.
Soylu accused Greek border units of acting as “thugs” toward migrants while showing sympathy toward members of a network — which Turkey says is behind a 2016 failed military coup — who have escaped to Greece.
He also accused the European Union of being “helpless, weak and inhumane.”
The governor’s office for Edirne province, near the land border with Greece, said the deceased included a migrant who died in a hospital after being rescued by Turkish authorities.
Turkey frequently accuses neighboring Greece of illegally pushing back migrants wanting to make their way into Europe. Greece denies accusations that it carries out so-called pushbacks that prevent migrants from applying for international protection.
Turkey, which hosts about 3.7 million Syrian refugees, is a major crossing point for migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa seeking a better life in European Union countries.
Most try to cross into Greece by either crossing the northeastern land border or cramming into smuggling boats headed for the eastern Aegean Sea islands.
Recently, smuggling gangs have even been piling migrants into yachts heading from Turkey to Italy. Dozens of migrants have died in the central Aegean last month.