TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albanian police on Friday said they have arrested six migrant traffickers for allegedly organizing an illegal border crossing for people from Arab countries and opening fire on border police. No injures were reported.
A police statement said that the traffickers were operating late Thursday in Morine village, close to the Kosovo border, 165 kilometers (around 100 miles) north of the capital, Tirana, where they were conducting “criminal activity assisting emigrants from third countries to cross the border illegally … in exchange for financial compensation.”
The traffickers responded with gunfire when they were asked to stop, police said.
Following hours of pursuit in coordination with neighboring Kosovo counterparts, five Syrians and one Algerian were arrested early Friday, police said, adding that another Algerian suspect is still at large.
They are accused of assisting migrants from Arab or Asian countries to illegally cross from Greece to Albania, Kosovo and Serbia, who then try to make their way to a Western European country. They also face charges of attempted murder for opening fire on border agents and illegal weapons possession.
If convicted on all charges, they face up to life in prison.
Albania isn’t a preferred route for migrants, but some try to use the tiny Western Balkan country to move toward Western Europe.