Iraqi found dead after crossing German-Polish border

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Berlin

German police said Friday they had found a dead Iraqi man among around 30 people apparently smuggled across the Polish border in a van.

The 32-year-old had been dead for “several hours” when police found the group near the van outside the town of Schoepstal in Saxony on Friday morning, they said.

The driver, a 48-year-old man of Turkish origin, reportedly fled the scene but was later detained.

Germany has seen a surge in illegal migrants entering the country from Poland in recent months, most coming via Belarus.

The EU accuses Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of flying migrants from the Middle East and Africa to Minsk and then sending them into the bloc on foot in retaliation for sanctions imposed over a crackdown on the opposition.

More than 6,100 illegal migrants have entered Germany via Poland since the start of the year, according to German authorities.

To cope with the influx, Berlin this week tightened its border controls with Poland, with Interior Minister Horst Seehofer deploying 800 extra police officers.

On Wednesday, Seehofer said more than 1,000 migrants had entered in a single day this week for the first time in many years.

“If you extrapolate that to a month, then you can see that there is an urgent need for action,” he told Bild TV.

Last Saturday, a suspected smuggler was taken into custody after 31 illegal migrants from Iraq were found in a van near the Polish border.

The influx has provided fuel for Germany’s extreme right, with police last week breaking up a rally of around 50 armed activists who had gathered to oppose migrants trying to cross the border.

The German government on Friday said “responsibility for resolving this crisis clearly lies with Minsk,” repeating Berlin’s position that Belarus is exploiting refugees “as a means of exerting political pressure.”—AN

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