SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — About 400 migrants have been detained after clashes with police at a refugee camp in southern Bulgaria left several injured, and the country’s prime minister said Friday that some of them would immediately be deported as threats to national security.
Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said all the detainees would be removed from the camp in Harmanli and placed in locked reception centers while their involvement in Thursday’s unrest if investigated.
Fifteen already have been charged with damaging property, Borisov said after arriving at the camp early Friday.
Police said about 2,000 migrants, most from Afghanistan, were involved in the conflict that reportedly erupted over the camp being put under quarantine following an alleged outbreak of infectious diseases and an outbreak of panic among local residents.
Chanting slogans, migrants allegedly set fires and threw rocks at police, who responded with water cannons and rubber bullets. Two dozen police officers and two refugees were injured, the prime minister said. .
Borisov canceled a previously scheduled visit to Hungary on Friday and called an emergency meeting with all heads of law enforcement services.
Speaking to reporters, he expressed concern that terror groups could exploit simmering tensions such as the ones at the Harmanli camp.
The head of the state refugee agency, Petya Parvanova, said Thursday there was no medical reason to quarantine the camp, but that local authorities had sealed it off after local residents protested.
Despite a wire fence that Bulgaria has erected on its border with Turkey to prevent unauthorized crossings, migrants continue to enter the Balkan country of 7.2 million residents.
According to official statistics, some 13,000 migrants are currently in Bulgaria, while about 3,000 people are staying at the camp in Harmanli.
Last month, several hundred Afghans staged protests demanding to be allowed to move westwards to Europe.