The Latest: 2 N Macedonia officers among suspected smugglers

National & World News

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — The Latest on Europe migrant issues (all times local):

7:20p.m.

Authorities in North Macedonia say they broke up a large migrant-smuggling ring and two police officers were among the nine people arrested.

Police said the arrests were made during raids on Monday and Tuesday in Skopje and two other cities following an eight-month surveillance operation.

They say the nine suspects all were identified as citizens of North Macedonia ages 20 to 49.

Police spokesman Toni Angelovski said the smuggling group allegedly organized transportation and shelter in North Macedonia for about 400 migrants between March and October.

The group allegedly made about 200,000 euros ($220,000) from its activities.

Angelovski says the migrants were from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Bangladesh and illegally entered North Macedonia from Greece in the south intending to travel through to Serbia in the north.

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5:15 p.m.

Austrian police say a 33-year-old Afghan asylum-seeker who killed a farmer and severely injured a social worker at his shelter was known to the authorities for previous violent acts.

Police officer Andreas Pilsl said Tuesday the suspect, whose identity hasn’t been released, was reported to police before participating in a brawl at a community college and damaging a car after he failed his driving license test.

The man killed a 63-year-old farmer Monday afternoon, when he tried to steal his car after he had stabbed a 32-year-old social worker at his shelter in Wullowitz near the Czech border.

Austrian news agency APA reported the social worker is still in life-threatening condition.

Police said the man arrived in Austria in 2015 and an appeal against the rejection of his asylum request is still pending.

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12:40 p.m.

Lebanon’s defense minister said his country and Cyprus have agreed to work together on curbing boat loads of migrants from reaching the east Mediterranean island nation.

Elias Bou Saab said after talks with his Cypriot counterpart on Tuesday that Lebanon would pass on information to Cypriot authorities to better coordinate in heading off such arrivals.

Saab said Lebanon understands Cypriot concerns over such arrivals and that the Lebanese navy had stopped migrants trying to reach Cyprus “many times.”

Saab added that the both countries are looking to better coordinate their naval forces.

Cyprus officials have said that the EU-member country leads the 28 member-bloc in the number of asylum applications relative to its population.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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