By Glen Johnson
25 November 2016

(Los Angeles Times) – Police and migrants clashed violently in Bulgaria’s largest refugee camp Thursday night, resulting in hundreds of arrests. In response, the country’s prime minister vowed Friday to move hundreds of refugees to closed camps and begin deporting others.

Around 400 residents of the camp, most of them from Afghanistan, were arrested for clashing with riot police Thursday. About 2,000 refugees were involved in the conflict, police said. […]

Video published on the news website Balkan Insight showed refugee youth hurling stones at the police and setting tires and wood ablaze, sending plumes of smoke skyward. Authorities used water cannons and rubber bullets to bring the riot under control. 24 police officers were injured, and some 60 soldiers were deployed to help quell the violence.

Violent clashes between migrants and police in Harmanli, Bulgaria, 24 November 2016. Photo: Nikolay Mihov

Camp volunteers claim that the police used excessive force and attacked refugees who had not participated in the riot, according to Balkan Insight, citing photographs of bruised and bloodied refugees.

The refugees allegedly rioted in anger at a temporary quarantine placed on the camp, which holds 3,000 people, after local media reported that contagious diseases were spreading there.

The head of the state refugee agency, Petya Parvanova, said Thursday there was no medical reason to quarantine the camp, but that local authorities had sealed it off after residents protested. [more]

Hundreds arrested after violent clashes in Bulgarian refugee camp

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