Several firearms were found by police on Tuesday as part of an operation aimed at curbing illegal immigration in Vojvodina, near the Hungarian border, the Serbian Interior Ministry announced. A large number of police officers are taking part in the operation in Subotica (Szabadka), Sombor (Zombor), and Kikinda (Nagykikinda), where migrants are numerous and increasingly violent.
According to information from Pannon RTV in Subotica, members of the Serbian gendarmerie and the counter-terrorism special unit have deployed in large numbers to the wooded areas around Subotica, where they are also conducting aerial drone surveillance. The police began their operation to search for illegal immigrants after several armed shootouts among migrants in recent days. So far, 371 illegal migrants were apprehended by police.
The Makkhetes forest (Suma Makove Sedmice) is a favorite hiding place for migrants. They wait for the smugglers to come for them next to illegal fire pits, and the depths of the forest are also the scene of serious clashes. The forest, which is part of the outskirts of Subotica and used to be a popular place for hikers, is now littered with rubbish and locals are afraid to set foot in it. The main reason why migrants hide here is that the Serbian-Hungarian border is only a few kilometers away. Several times a day, they walk from the forest to the fence, where they try to escape to Hungary, i.e. the European Union, with the help of smugglers.
Last Friday, migrants fired shots at each other in a car park in front of a supermarket in central Subotica, one of them eventually dying of his injuries. On Monday evening, a group of migrants clashed in Hajdukovo (Hajdújárás) and in Subotica, near the Hungarian border, killing a Syrian man and wounding two other Syrians and an Afghan man. Moreover, just last night, migrants fired at each other again on the outskirts of Hajdukovo, close to populated areas. According to Pannon RTV‘s report, one migrant died and three others were injured.
Meanwhile, in Subotica, a powerful explosion occurred last night along the railway tracks, which could be heard throughout the nearby residential area and other parts of the city.
According to official figures, more than 7,000 migrants have been transferred from Subotica to reception centers in other municipalities in the last six months. As the Serbian authorities do not deport those who are intercepted, but only return them from their northern border to the southern border, many migrants are on the move again, reaching the Hungarian border a few days later, where they try to re-enter the European Union.
In the eight years since the fence was erected on the Hungarian-Serbian border, authorities have prevented 1 million illegal migrants from crossing.
Recently, gangs of human smugglers have become increasingly organized, while large groups of 100 or 200 migrants try to storm the border, or attempt to do so at as many as 19 locations at the same time. Border-crossers and smugglers are also becoming increasingly violent, with constant attacks on fences, vehicles, electronic detection equipment, and patrols. Seven officers have already been injured this year.