The Latest: Austria to deploy soldiers to block Alpine pass

AP News
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Posted: Apr 02, 2016 9:25 AM
The Latest: Austria to deploy soldiers to block Alpine pass

IDOMENI, Greece (AP) — The Latest on the migrant and refugee influx in Europe (all times local):

4:20 p.m.

Austria's defense minister says his country will deploy soldiers at a key Alpine pass to stop migrants arriving from Italy.

Hans Peter Doskozil told German daily Die Welt that the move anticipates a shift in migrant flows from the Turkey-Greece route to the central Mediterranean.

In an interview published Saturday, the newspaper quotes Doskozil saying that the military can provide "considerable support to border security" at the Brenner pass.

He also proposed that the European Union should deploy a civilian-military mission to support the bloc's border agency Frontex.

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4:10 p.m.

Hundreds of people are demonstrating in a coastal Turkish town against a deal to send back migrants from Greece to Turkey.

The EU-Turkey deal stipulates that those who reach the shores of Greece unlawfully will be turned back to Turkey unless they qualify for asylum. The deal aims to break the lucrative smuggling operations now in Turkey. In exchange for its help, the EU has offered Turkey financial aid and political concessions, including faster EU membership talks.

Turkey is due to receive the first batch of returned migrants on Monday. Plans are underway to build a reception center in Dikili, a move unpopular with locals.

The major of the town, Mustafa Tosun, says "we definitely don't want a refugee camp in Dikili."

Demonstrators expressed concern over the impact the EU deal could have on the economy, tourism and security in their town.

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3:40 p.m.

The Turkish coast guard has intercepted dozens of migrants as they tried to reach the Greek island of Lesbos.

A coast guard official in Izmir Province said 63 people were caught in the Aegean Sea and brought to the Turkish town of Dikili.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, did not disclose their nationalities but at least some were Syrians.

The intervention comes two days before a deal to curb the flow of illegal migrants goes into effect.

Under the EU-Turkey deal, migrants who arrive illegally in Greece from Turkey will be turned back unless they apply for asylum and that claim is accepted. Dikili is one of the designated registration points for migrants who are sent back to Turkey.

-By Dominique Soguel

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3:35 p.m.

More than 200 refugees and migrants are staging a protest on a highway linking Greece and Macedonia, demanding that Macedonia open its borders and allow them to continue their journeys to central and northern Europe.

The protest is being staged about 17 kilometers (10 miles) from the makeshift camp at the border town of Idomeni, where about 11,000 people have been stranded since Macedonia and other Balkan countries further north shut down the busiest migrant route. The protesters are blocking trucks from crossing into Macedonia, but not passenger vehicles.

Earlier Saturday, several dozen local people staged a protest at another location further from their town, demanding that the government shut down the camp and relocate migrants to transit centers across Greece.