A police operation following a shooting incident uncovered around 600 migrants near the border with Hungary, including weapons. Some 1,000 people had to be taken to safety.
One man was shot and wounded while six others were injured following reports of a clash between smugglers and migrants near the border with Hungary, police said on Friday (November 25).
Scores of people were detained while some 1,000 others were taken to safety during the incident which took place on Thursday.
Police said they found a 20-year-old man shot twice in the chest after responding to calls from Horgos residents that groups of migrants were shooting at each other in the border town. Six others were also found injured at the scene, police added.
Surveillance videos from Horgos showed large groups of men carrying automatic weapons passing through the town on Thursday evening toward the border with Hungary, according to Serbian media reports.
Serbian police announced they have launched an operation, also with the assistance of drones, to detain all those involved in the shooting and in migrant smuggling attempts.
"Members of the ministry of interior ... started a detailed search after reports that migrants were on the street, shooting at each other," a police statement said.
Border police chief Mile Jandric later said police had found some 600 irregular migrants during a search of the area. Among those involved were people from Afghanistan and Morocco.
"The individuals who participated in the shooting yesterday have been identified and firearms have been found," Jandric said, according to a police statement. Rifles, pistols and ammunition were seized at the scene.
Serbia, Hungary and Austria curb border crossing attempts
The shooting incident comes as the number of migrants trying to reach Western Europe through the Balkans has jumped in recent months. Migrants come to Serbia from North Macedonia and Bulgaria before attempting to cross to European Union member states Hungary and Croatia. Most migrants passing through the Balkans come from Afghanistan and Syria, while others come from countries in the Middle East, Africa or Asia.
Hundreds of migrants who try to cross the the fence with the help of smugglers – who are sometimes armed – are staying in tents in Serbian villages along the Hungarian border. Many migrants fail to cross the border and make several attempts.
Conflicts among the migrants and between smugglers and migrants occur repeatedly, the German news agency dpa reported. A migrant was killed in a shooting in July.
Serbia, Hungary and Austria have recently declared a joint effort to stem migration through the region.
With Reuters, dpa and AP