Two police officers were killed Thursday as they tried to stop a bus carrying migrants in Bulgaria, authorities said, as the government made a renewed promise to crack down on illegal migration.
The bus, which was carrying 47 passengers, including children, blew through two police checks in Bourgas, on the shores of the Black Sea.
“A patrol then chased it and blocked its way” before being hit by the speeding bus, senior ministry official Stanimir Stanev told the press.
Two police officers, aged 30 and 43, died instantly, he said.
A Syrian national suspected of having organized the journey was arrested, while the driver of the bus fled.
Photos from the Bgnes News Agency show a crumpled police car and damaged bus by the side of the road, with the dozens of passengers sitting on the ground nearby.
Interior Minister Ivan Demerdjiev said Thursday the government will launch “unprecedented measures” in a new push against illegal immigration.
The Balkan country lies at the European Union’s external border and has formed a key path for those trying to reach Europe.
It has built a fence stretching hundreds of kilometers along its border with Turkey to stop incoming migrants.
A hundred soldiers will be sent to the fence for maintenance and to install new cameras, Demerdjiev said.
The country’s refugee agency reported this week that some 11,000 illegal immigrants, particularly from Syria and Afghanistan, have been arrested since the start of the year.
This is sharply up from 12,000 for the whole of the year 2021.