The Latest: Greek police fire tear gas at protest on island

The Latest: Greek police fire tear gas at protest on island
The Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on migration issues in Europe (all times local):

7:40 p.m.

Greek riot police have fired tear gas to disperse angry protesters on the island of Lesbos who tried to topple a police bus during a demonstration against a European Union migration policy.

The protesters were among 2,500 demonstrators who gathered in Lesbos’ main port as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras arrived to speak at a conference. A large contingent of riot police formed a cordon to block the protesters from advancing further, and scores of them then tried to push over a police bus.

Officers fired tear gas and earlier had discharged a flash grenade. No one has been injured or arrested.

A general strike has virtually shut down the island to protest a 2016 agreement between the EU and Turkey. Under the deal, migrants arriving on Greek islands from Turkey are held on the islands and face deportation to Turkey unless they successfully apply for asylum in Greece. The deal has created a massive backlog, angering people on Lesbos and other Greek islands.

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6:10 p.m.

About 500 people on the Greek island of Lesbos are protesting against a European Union migration policy, many of them holding black flags.

Police have set up a cordon at the island’s main port and are using riot police buses to prevent protesters from coming close to government officials visiting the island. One group of marchers filed past coast guard cutters from Greece, Italy and Britain, chanting “solidarity with refugees.”

Protester Nikos Bourboulis said: “We are all suffering here — the refugees and the islanders. Unless we push back, nothing will change.”

A general strike has virtually shut down the island to protest a 2016 EU-Turkey agreement. Under the deal, migrants arriving on Greek islands from Turkey are held on the islands facing deportation to Turkey unless they successfully apply for asylum in Greece. The deal has created a massive backlog, angering people on Lesbos and other Greek islands.

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4:25 p.m.

A general strike virtually shut down the Greek island of Lesbos on Thursday as residents protested a European Union migration policy that has left thousands of asylum-seekers stranded here.

Most businesses, shops, cafes and local government offices were shuttered in the main town of Mytilene. The only sign of normality was that police officers were still on duty, and the local tax office was open.

Two protest rallies were planned later in the day when Tsipras was due to speak at a conference. Stores were also closed in protest on the nearby island of Chios.

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2:10 p.m.

Greek authorities say they have picked up 53 people, all believed to be from Iraq and Syria, after the boat smuggling them into the country ran aground on a remote beach off the mainland of northeastern Greece.

Authorities said Thursday the boat, a 12-meter (40-foot) Turkish-flagged yacht, ran aground on Molyvoti beach in the northeastern Rodopi region, far from any of the usual smuggling routes used to ferry migrants and refugees from Turkey to Greece.

The group comprised 19 men, 11 women and 23 children aged between 2 and 8.

Hundreds of migrants continue to pass from Turkey into Greece. Nearly all cross either from the Turkish coast to nearby Greek islands or forge across a river along the Greek-Turkish land border.

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9:20 a.m.

Hundreds of police officers have raided a migrant shelter in southern Germany after authorities were prevented from deporting a 23-year-old man from Togo days ago.

Police confirmed that the operation had taken place in the early hours of Thursday, but declined to provide further details immediately.

German news agency dpa reported that several people, including three police officers, were injured in the raid in Ellwangen, about 85 kilometers (53 miles) southwest of Nuremberg.

Some 150 residents of the migrant shelter had reportedly swarmed the police vehicles sent to pick up the Togolese man Monday, forcing officers to abort his deportation.

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