Young migrant killed by gunshot, authorities now say

By Demetris Nellas, Associated Press | Posted - Aug. 29, 2015 at 2:21 p.m.



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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A teenage migrant was found dead with a gunshot wound on a yacht approaching a Greek island on Saturday after smugglers clashed with Greece's coast guard, authorities said.

The Greek authorities had previously said the teenager had been found suffocated on the yacht. It wasn't immediately clear what caused the discrepancy in accounts.

Greek coast guard forces and a Latvian patrol boat belonging to Frontex, the European border management force, stopped a yacht for inspection off the Greek island of Simi, close to the Turkish coast, the coast guard said in its latest statement.

It said the yacht tried to evade inspection and repeatedly tried to ram the patrol boat. A Greek coast guard officer was injured during a scuffle with one of the traffickers, who tried to grab his gun.

"During the clash with the traffickers, gunshots were fired," the statement said, adding that a doctor at a health center in Simi later informed the coast guard that "the death of the 17-year-old foreign national was probably caused by a gunshot."

The yacht containing some 70 migrants was towed to Simi and the traffickers were arrested. They told the coast guard they were Turkish citizens.

A coast guard spokeswoman in Athens said she had nothing to add to the statement and that a new one would be released Sunday. She said the nationality of the victim was unknown.

An autopsy was to be performed on the victim's body in the nearby island of Rhodes.

"I express my sorrow for the death of a young person. A human life is precious and the members of the Greek coast guard, who wage a superhuman effort under adverse conditions daily, to protect and save thousands of people, victims of ruthless human traffickers, know this very well," said Shipping Minister Christos Zois.

The United Nations' refugee agency announced Friday that 200,000 refugees, the vast majority from Syria and Afghanistan, have entered Greece in 2015, more than four times the entire 2014 figure. The migrants, most of whom want to continue to northern Europe, has strained the Greek state's resources.

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This story has been corrected to reflect a changed description of events by authorities, saying the teenager died of gunshot wounds, not suffocation.

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Demetris Nellas

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