TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albanian police said on Friday they arrested six migrant smugglers for allegedly arranging an illegal border crossing for people from Arab countries and opening fire on border police. No injuries were reported.
A police statement said the traffickers were operating Thursday evening in the village of Morine, near the Kosovo border, 165 kilometers (about 100 miles) north of the capital, Tirana, where they were carrying out “criminal activity helping emigrants from third countries to cross the border illegally… in exchange for financial compensation.
The traffickers responded with gunfire when asked to stop, police said.
After hours of pursuit in coordination with their neighboring Kosovo counterparts, five Syrians and one Algerian were arrested early Friday, police said, adding that another Algerian suspect remains at large.
They are accused of helping migrants from Arab or Asian countries cross illegally from Greece to Albania, Kosovo and Serbia, who then attempt to reach a Western European country. They also face charges of attempted murder for opening fire on border agents and unlawful possession of weapons.
If convicted on all counts, they face life in prison.
Albania is not a favored route for migrants, but some try to use the small Western Balkan country to move to Western Europe.