Albanian police said on Friday they had arrested six migrant smugglers for allegedly organizing an illegal border crossing for people from Arab countries and opening fire on border police. No injuries were reported.
A police statement said smugglers were operating on Thursday night in the village of Morine, close to the border with Kosovo, about 160 kilometers north of the capital Tirana, where they carried out “criminal activities helping third-country emigrants cross the border illegally… in exchange for financial compensation”.
The traffickers responded with gunfire when asked to stop, police said.
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After hours of pursuit in coordination with Kosovo’s neighbors, five Syrians and an Algerian were arrested on Friday, police said, adding that another Algerian suspect was still at large.
They are accused of helping migrants from Arab or Asian countries cross illegally from Greece into Albania, Kosovo and Serbia, who then attempt to reach a Western European country. They also face charges of attempted murder for opening fire on border agents and illegal possession of weapons.
If convicted of all counts, they face life in prison.
Albania is not a preferred route for migrants, but some try to use the small Western Balkan country to move towards Western Europe.