Evros minefields claim 2 more lives

Three weeks after the latest border minefield accident, in which three illegal immigrants died, another two people were killed on Saturday night while trying to clandestinely enter Greece from Turkey. Saturday’s two deaths raised to 69 the number of people killed in minefields in the Evros area of Thrace since 1997, when the international Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel mines was signed. Greece, which ratified the treaty in 2002, still has some 25,000 anti-personnel mines buried along its eastern borders, and 1.5 million in storage, according to the Defense Ministry. The two people killed on Saturday were only identified as Turkish nationals aged 22 and 23. An army statement said they entered a fenced minefield near the village of Kastanies – 135 kilometers northeast of Alexandroupolis and next to the Evros River that serves as the border with Turkey – at 10.10 p.m., triggering an explosion. The minefield was marked with phosphorescent warning signs in Greek and English. The army seemed uncertain whether the two were actually illegal immigrants. The last such incident was on November 12. Meanwhile, a young man believed to have been an illegal immigrant was found dead in a field near Alexandroupolis on Saturday. He had been gagged and bound hand and foot, and bore a head wound. Later on Saturday, border guards in Thrace arrested a man for hiding 34 illegal immigrants in his coach. Police said the 34-year-old suspect was to have been paid 102,000 euros for driving the migrants to Athens. And on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos early yesterday, the coast guard arrested a Turkish suspected people-smuggler and seven illegal immigrants – all men – the suspect is believed to have ferried over from Turkey.