Bulgarian media reports on October 18 said that the migrant from Afghanistan shot dead by Border Police four days earlier was named Bismillah and was part of a group that had been headed to Germany or Switzerland.
The reports did not give a surname for the man, who was part of a group of 54 intercepted near Sredets in an incident in which a shot was fired, which – according to the border policeman who fired it – ricocheted off a bridge, fatally injuring the man.
Bulgarian National Television said that members of the group had told officials questioning them that they were on their way to Germany or Switzerland. BNT quoted its sources as saying that the mobile phones of many of the group of young men had footage of violence and atrocities.
They said that they had the footage to show in European countries as evidence that in Afghanistan, their lives were in danger and they were not economic migrants.
On October 18, bTV reported the regional prosecutor in Elhovo, Stoiko Ivanov, as saying that for several days, it was only men, aged 20 to 40 years, who had been passing the border.
Ivanov said that in the past week, there were people who said that they were from Afghanistan, but questioning through an interpreter had established that they were Iraqis and Pakistanis.
“For me, the critical zone is the entire border with Turkey, Malko Turnovo, Tsarevo, Elhovo, Bolyarovo,” he said.
According to Ivanov, 90 per cent of those detained after crossing the border illegally had not told the truth about their country of origin.
Those suspected of links to radical Islamist organisations were interrogated by the State Agency for National Security.
In the past few months, prosecutors in Elhovo have secured more than 10 convictions of people who smuggled people across the border. Most were Bulgarians and one a Turkish citizen. All sentences were suspended.
Meanwhile, on October 18 Bulgarian Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev visited military personnel deployed to the Bulgarian-Turkish border.
He inspected the conditions under which they were performing their duties, and urged them to strictly follow instructions in compliance with domestic and international law, BNT said.
If necessary, the Defence Ministry was ready to provide further support to the Border Police, “but let’s be guided by the fact that it is still the Interior Ministry and the Border Police that are taking the lead, so that together with them we’ll decide for how long and how many people will participate,” Nenchev said.