Minister worried by rise of racist attacks in Greece

The justice minister on Monday condemned the fatal attack on an Iraqi immigrant on the weekend as officials expressed satisfaction over the progress of a controversial crackdown on illegal immigrants in Attica and along the country?s northeastern border.

?The rise in hate attacks against foreigners is starting to take a dangerous direction,? said Justice, Transparency and Human Rights Minister Antonis Roupakiotis. ?The country?s acute migration problem and its consequences cannot, of course, be dealt with using inhumanly violent means,? he said, vowing that authorities would do everything to bring those responsible to justice.

A 19-year-old man, whose name has not been disclosed, was attacked in central Athens on Sunday morning by five individuals on motorcycles and struck multiple times with what appears to have been a knife, police said. The victim was taken to hospital but died several hours later.

The killing took place against the backdrop of an unprecedented crackdown on clandestine immigrants in the greater Athens area. Police said Monday that the operation, jarringly code-named Xenios Zeus after the ancient Greek god of hospitality, has so far led to the arrest of 1,596 unregistered immigrants. A total of 7,361 foreigners have so far been rounded up for checks, police said.

On Sunday, the authorities reinforced patrols in the Evros region along the porous frontier with Turkey. Another 16 border patrol dogs were sent along with their handlers as well as six boats to patrol the Evros River — the most popular crossings for Europe-bound migrants.

Between 300 and 400 migrants used to sneak into Greece there daily before the launch of the operation. The influx is set to drop to single-digit figures, an official who did not wish to be identified, told Kathimerini.

Greece?s left-wing opposition SYRIZA party once more slammed the Xenios Zeus operation for punishing immigrants for the economic crisis. Also, the Communist party (KKE) criticized Kalamata Mayor Panayiotis Nikas, who recently asked police to remove illegal immigrants from the area for being a risk to security and public health.

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