A young migrant was killed in an incident between a group of smugglers and the Macedonian police near Gevgelija last Wednesday, but the details of the case are just now emerging in full. The victim is identified as Fatmata Bakar, a young 23 year old migrant from Sierra Leone, who resided in Greece with her husband.
According to the police report, a patrol encountered a group of migrants in the early morning hours, as two smugglers were signaling to them to come out of hiding and loading them in a vehicle. One of the smugglers reached for the gun of a police officer as he was being apprehended. During the struggle, the weapon fired and hit Fatmata, who was already seated in his vehicle. She died in her husband’s arms, apparently two months pregnant at the time.
Both smugglers have been detained. An NGO supporting illegal migrants in Greece says that Fatmata’s husband, Abu Bakar, was also briefly detained and left without information about his wife, as well as without help in returning the body to Sierra Leone.
Macedonia was a key link on the Balkan migrant route in 2015 and 2016, when between 1 and 2 million illegals crossed the country on their way to Germany and other EU member states. The flow was stopped, largely by the decision of the Macedonian Government to put up a wire fence and invite police reinforcements from central European countries, and the EU’s agreement with Turkey. But a steady trickle of migrants continues and apprehensions as well as incidents such as attempts by smugglers to flee or ram police patrol cars happen often.