Twelve-year-olds shot as border police fire at truck carrying migrants into Croatia

Croatian police said on Thursday they seriously wounded two 12-year-old migrants from Iraq and Afghanistan after opening fire on a van which refused to stop.

The shooting occurred late on Wednesday night when the vehicle illegally crossed the border from Bosnia, spokesman Elis Zodan told AFP.

Police opened fire and then discovered 29 illegal migrants in the van, including the two children, who were hospitalised and are now in a stable condition, he said.

The driver of the van, that had Austrian registration plates, fled into the woods and police were searching for him, Zodan added.

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Police said they twice tried to halt the van but the driver "charged the vehicle at police … after which they opened fire," according to the spokesman.

Migrant children play in a cardboard box outside the abandoned building of a former student campus in the western Bosnian town of BihacCredit:
Amel Emric/AP

The children were hospitalised in the coastal town of Zadar and their lives were not in danger, the state-run HINA news agency said.

The migrants included 15 children in total and were "mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan, members of several families," the spokesman said.

EU member Croatia lies on the so-called Balkan route used in 2015 and 2016 by hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

The route was closed in March 2016 but much smaller numbers of people still cross the region to reach the EU.

A new route through Bosnia has been opened since the start of the year.

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