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Macedonia finishes fence at Greek border


Migrants begin walking towards the Austrian border in Bicske, near Budapest, Hungary, on.  PHOTO: stuff

Migrants begin walking towards the Austrian border in Bicske, near Budapest, Hungary, on.<br />PHOTO: stuff

Macedonia on Sunday finished building a fence on its frontier with Greece becoming the latest country in Europe to build a border barrier aimed at checking the flow of migrants.

Some three-kilometre (1.8-mile) long metal fence was erected by the army at the Gevgelija crossing, on the main road north from the Greek city of Thessaloniki to Macedonia’s capital Skopje.

For the time being the fence is not being erected at other locations, but Macedonian officials did not rule out such a possibility in future.

The building of the 2.5-metre-high (8-foot) fence, which started on Saturday, sparked clashes between angry migrants and police.

On Saturday, a group of migrants trying to enter Macedonia pelted the police with stones while officers fired stun grenades in their direction

Several police and army vehicles were damaged and 18 police officers slightly injured in the protests.

The situation later calmed down and was calm Sunday, according to an AFP photographer at the scene.

A Macedonia government spokesman said earlier the fence was aimed at ensuring migrants did not try to slip across the frontier undetected, without going through the checkpoint.

The border will remain open and only people who are not from war-affected regions will not be allowed to cross, spokesman Aleksandar Gjorgjev told AFP.

Since the summer some central and southeastern European countries had begun tightening their borders to check the influx — a trend that has been accelerated by the November 13 shooting and suicide attacks in Paris.

Two of the attackers slipped into Europe through Greece posing as refugees from Syria’s civil war, according to French prosecutors.

Since then, countries along the migrant route through the Balkans have tightened restrictions on migrants, allowing entry only to those fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Macedonia was taking a similar tack and the move had sparked protests from migrants that have been turned away.

From Macedonia the refugees generally travel further north to Serbia and then back into the European Union via Croatia and Slovenia before arriving at their destination in Austria, Germany, Sweden or other western European countries.

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