3 smugglers nabbed, 48 asylum seekers held in NW Turkey

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KIRKLARELI, Turkey

Three suspected human smugglers were arrested and 48 asylum seekers held near the Bulgarian border in northwestern Turkey, security sources said on Tuesday.

The asylum seekers were all Iraqi and Syrian nationals and included children, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

They were found in four groups in woodlands in the Kofcaz and Demirkoy districts of Kirklareli province in an operation launched by gendarmerie teams after a tip-off, the sources added.

Given the freezing cold in the region, 11 of the individuals were in need of immediate medical attention and were transferred to a public hospital in Kirklareli, according to the sources.

Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum seekers who want to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

It hosts nearly 4 million refugees, including more than 3.6 million Syrians, the most for any country in the world.

* Writing by Ahmet Gencturk

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