Masked Gunmen Attack Middle Eastern Refugees Off Coast of Greek Island

AFP Photo/Angelos Tzortzinis
AFP Photo/Angelos Tzortzinis

The UK Independent reports a riot this week in which refugees were attacked on the Greek Island of Kos, where the police “used fire extinguishers and batons against migrants, as tensions boiled over in a sports stadium where hundreds had gathered to wait for immigration documents.”

A good portion of the massive human tidal wave washing across the Mediterranean from the Middle East is coming ashore in Greece, which obviously does not have the resources to handle such a humanitarian crisis. It has been estimated that refugee arrivals in Greece are up by over 700 percent this year. After a few relatively calm months, there have been clashes between police and “migrants” in Greece, and now there are reports of mysterious masked gunmen intercepting refugee boats in Greek waters.

“The scuffles at the stadium came a day after a police officer on the island was suspended for brandishing a knife and slapping a man who was identified by Greek media as a Pakistani migrant,” the Independent writes. Meanwhile, on another part of the island, hundreds of migrants blocked a main coastal road and chanted, “We want papers, we want to eat!”

The mayor of Kos judged the situation on his island “out of control.” He warned that “there is a real danger of uncontrollable situations” and that “blood will be shed.”

Meanwhile, near the island of Lesbos, speedboats full of masked gunmen have been intercepting overcrowded dinghies full of refugees, seeking to capsize the boats with sticks or even shoot holes in them.

According to an article at The Huffington Postthere are conflicting accounts about whether these marauding boats have any identifying marks; some claim to have seen Greek or German flags on them. Sometimes, the gunmen abuse the refugee passengers or rob them, often a lucrative enterprise, as the refugees are frequently carrying their life savings in cash.

Evidently, it is difficult to take effective action against these enigmatic gunmen because neither they nor their targets are citizens of either Greece or Turkey, taking the coast guard forces of those two countries out of the equation, while the international community has been slow to classify the attackers as “pirates” who could be engaged in international waters. One refugee quoted in the story accused the Greek coast guard of either working with the marauders or indulging them, while another said the Greek coast guard saved the passengers of a refugee dinghy from attack, and independent agencies report some arrests have been made, revealing the perpetrators to be Greek citizens.

Similar encounters have been reported near other Greek islands, with increasing frequency and violence. The Huffington Post article describes migrants and refugees discussing the attacks on social media, with indications that some of them are rethinking their plans to flee across the Mediterranean and seek refuge in Greece … which probably satisfies one goal of the masked men.