Serbia Minister Vows to ‘Break’ People Smugglers After Violent Clashes

Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin, after attending an action in Subotica aimed at suppressing crimes and misdemeanours committed by refugees and migrants, said on Thursday that "no smuggling gang will pass without being discovered and broken, so that their members are not punished in accordance with the law".

"No one can carry weapons in Serbia, no one can trade people in Serbia, Serbia will not allow its territory to be a place where various bandits and scum from all over Asia will gather. Serbia is not a parking lot for migrants, Serbia will not allow our way of life to be jeopardized in any way thanks to criminals who trade in human pain and human misery," Vulin said in a press release, stressing that a special operational strike group on the matter was formed on July 4 by his order.

On June 22, BIRN published an investigation into a smuggling gang which dominates Sombor and northwest Serbia's border with the EU and takes down rivals with the help of police on its payroll.

The group is allegedly led by Alen Basil, a Serbian citizen of Syrian origin, who is also an Arabic translator for the police, and his first associate, named Abu Omar, known for leading the group in the field.

Just a day after BIRN's investigation was published, a person was reported wounded in a conflict between smuggling gangs as shots were fired near a migrant camp in northwest Serbia, known as a smuggling hub.

A few days later, on July 2, in Subotica, on the border with Hungary, a larger armed conflict between two smuggling gangs erupted in which Kalashnikov rifles were used. The authorities announced that one person died, while eight were wounded, including a 16-year-old girl.

However, only one person was arrested, a 26-year-old Afghan,...

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