335 undocumented migrants apprehended in Turkey in 24-hour period

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AFP PHOTO / Olmo Calvo

At least 335 undocumented migrants were apprehended by authorities across Turkey on Friday, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported, citing security sources.

In eastern Erzurum province, security forces discovered 131 undocumented migrants in a truck at the Askale checkpoint on the Erzurum-Erzincan highway. 

The truck driver, identified as G.B., was arrested at the scene on charges of human smuggling. 

Separately, 101 undocumented migrants — including Afghan and Pakistani nationals – were taken into custody in the Baskale district of eastern Van province, according to a statement from the provincial gendarmerie command.

The migrants include 14 women and 11 children. 

Also in Erzincan, the gendarmerie captured 55 undocumented migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh in a van at a checkpoint.

The migrants told gendarmes that each person had paid TL 3,000 ($624) for transport to Istanbul. The 38-year old driver, identified as Aytac Y., was arrested at the scene.

In the Central Anatolian province of Kirsehir, 48 undocumented migrants were discovered by security forces on the Ankara-Kayseri highway.

The migrants included 35 Afghans, 11 Pakistanis and two Burmese. They said they had paid $1,500-$5,500 per person to get to Turkey.

They were brought into Iran by air from their countries of origin and said they had illegally crossed into Turkey’s Van province on foot. Later, they were given fake identification cards and promised to be taken to Ankara and Istanbul.

The drivers of the vans were arrested.

Turkey has been the main route for refugees trying to reach Europe, especially since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011

Among the migrants caught last year in Turkey, the majority came from Pakistan — around 15,000 — followed by Afghanistan, at around 12,000. Syrians totaled 10,000.

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