Bosnian police raided and undertook a large-scale search of the Bira migrant camp near Bihac today after a migrant had pulled a gun on an officer on Wednesday.
Two days ago, police arrested 17 illegal migrants who were discovered living in an abandoned house in Laktasi, in the Serb-majority Repubilka Srpska. While the officers were in the process of taking the migrants into custody, one of them drew a gun and threatened them. The Special Anti-Terrorism Unit was called in to pacify the situation.
While armed violence between migrants has been seen many times before in Bosnia, this was the first time that a police officer was threatened with a weapon.
In response, today police launched the raid on the Bira camp in the Una-Sana Canton, near the Croatian border. One migrant was arrested for drug possession, and 15 others who did not have permits for Bira were relocated to the camp in Lipa, according to a report by Balkan Insight.
Milorad Dodik, the Serbian representative of the Bosnian Presidency, said the incident shows that the police need to be given broader powers in order to defend themselves from migrants. He also indicated that the Republika Srpska will never allow migrant camps to be built within its territory, and called for Bosnia to close its borders to migrants and deport the ones already there.
Representatives of the Republika Srpska said they would send more police to reinforce the border against illegal entries. They say that between 150 and 200 migrants have been entering Bosnia daily in recent weeks.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is currently hosting an estimated 10,000 migrants, with more coming all the time as the country lies along the Balkan route that illegal migrants use to get from the countries along the Mediterranean coast to northern Europe. Most of the migrants hope to eventually be able to cross illegally into Croatia, which is a European Union member state, and from there head to richer pickings in northwestern Europe.
Fahrudin Radoncic, who was Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Minister of Security until this month, had stated that he intended to deport all migrants in the country apart from Syrian war refugees. He resigned earlier this month, however, citing disagreements with the government over migrant issues as one of the reasons for his departure, as previously reported by Voice of Europe.
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