Syrian on run killed in Cyprus

NICOSIA (AFP) – A Syrian man was killed and another seriously injured yesterday as they tried to escape an immigration swoop by running across a highway and were hit by a car, police on Cyprus said. The two were among more than 50 suspected illegal Syrian immigrants crossing over into the Greek-Cypriot government-controlled south of the divided island near the coastal resort of Larnaca from the Turkish-held north, said police. Police were tipped off that a wave of immigrants would try to sneak across from the north and organized a dragnet to catch them with the deployment of special units. «Since the morning, the arrest of a large group of immigrants has been in progress,» Police Chief Iacovos Papacostas told reporters. «Unfortunately, these illegal immigrants ran toward the motorway and two of them were hit by a motorist. One died, the other was taken to Larnaca general hospital,» he added. Police said 38 of the estimated 50 illegal immigrants had so far been caught, while the search, including by a police helicopter, continued to locate the rest. It is believed that some of the suspects re-entered the island illegally after being deported in the past. The incident came as a European Parliament delegation was visiting the island to check on conditions for detainees and the treatment of asylum seekers. The European Parliament’s committee on civil liberties and justice blamed Turkey for the flood of immigrants crossing into the south from a porous UN-controlled ceasefire line. «The majority of illegal immigrants or asylum seekers who come here enter from the Turkish zone, and Turkey should be made responsible,» said delegation head Martine Roure at a news conference. EU member Cyprus has one of the highest intakes – per head of population – of asylum seekers in Europe, with more than 12,000 applications pending.