Police in North Macedonia have detained 16 migrants from India who were allegedly trying to enter neighboring Greece illegally, as migrant-smuggling gangs try new routes in answer to pandemic travel restrictions and tougher border controls.
Three Pakistani men aged 21 to 31 but not further identified who were traveling with the Indian migrants were arrested on smuggling charges, authorities said Thursday.
In a statement, police said the migrants were found near the southern town of Bogdanci and were taken to a nearby shelter where deportation procedures would be launched.
Migrants and asylum seekers are typically arrested traveling northward, on a route from Greece through North Macedonia and other Balkan countries to try and reach destinations in central and northern Europe.
But pandemic-related travel restrictions and tougher border controls have forced smugglers to change tactics in recent months with migrants from as far as Cuba trying to reach European Union-member Greece from North Macedonia.
Many enter North Macedonia from neighboring Serbia. [AP]