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Jan 28, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

Violent, organized group of illegal migrants tried to invade Hungary at Röszke

Early this morning, border guards fired warning shots to deter a mass of migrants from illegally crossing the border.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán attended a coordination meeting at the Ministry of the Interior in the morning with the Migration Working Group. The meeting came after a group of some 50-70 migrants had attempted to break through Hungary's border fence with Serbia at the southern border station of Röszke earlier that morning. Hungarian national police issued a short statement at 7:22 a.m. saying that "a larger group of migrants attempted to illegally enter Hungary in Csongrád County, but police stopped them. The few who managed to enter Hungary were detained by police, and one border guard had to fire several warning shots."

At a press conference following the incident, György Bakondi, the Prime Minister’s Chief Security Advisor, said that “a violent, organized group of migrants tried to invade Hungary at Röszke.” Police blocked the first attempt and arrested a man. But this was only the first wave, and shortly thereafter a group of nearly 70 people tried to cross the gate, shutting down the border crossing, which would otherwise have been open between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

At dawn, there were three armed guards who immediately called on the migrants to return. When they disobeyed, one of the guards fired three warning shots, and a large number of the migrants then turned back.

“The Serbian-Hungarian border is under severe pressure, with more than 3,400 people having tried to enter Hungary illegally in January alone,” said György Bakondi, adding that “Illegal groups are still gathering now; this one was a blatantly aggressive and violent group.”

Minister of Interior, Sándor Pintér, said that he had recently been at the border and that there was information that migrants would try to break in at several places. The Minister found that the Hungarian police were prepared and ready to protect Hungary’s borders. “No one can enter Hungary individually or in a larger group. The police proved this, and this is the basis for Hungary's security,” he said.

Sándor Pintér said that the signaling system was working and everyone was arrested. However, they would nevertheless investigate what had happened and, if necessary, changes would be implemented within ten days.

While crossing into Hungarian territory at night, the migrants severely damaged the wire fence on the concrete cordon separating the border; a section of the wire mesh – more than 10 meters in width – had been cut off from the fence posts. The concrete cordon separating pedestrian and motor traffic was damaged as well.

Incidents like the one this morning point to an alarming direction: illegal migration pressure at Hungary’s southern borders is on the rise.