‘War situation’ – Serbian fisherman nearly shot during people smuggler gun battle caught on video near Hungarian border

By Dénes Albert
4 Min Read

The border between Hungary and Serbia is increasingly taking on a military character, with well-armed people smugglers engaging in shootouts over turf and control of lucrative trafficking channels, according to reports from the Hungarian press.

Several locals told Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet about a protracted shootout involving automatic weapons between people smugglers last Saturday near the town of Szabadka in northern Serbia, just a few kilometers from the Hungarian border.

One of the witnesses, who asked not to be named, told the paper that while he was holding his fishing rod during a fishing contest, he noticed something whistling above his head. Afterward, when they realized that bullets were flying past them, everyone panicked. As the competitors lay on the ground trying to protect their bodies, one of the tents they had set up was reportedly pierced by a stray bullet.

The ongoing crisis at the Serbian border, which often devolves into armed battles, led Magyar Nemzet to describe it as a “war situation.”

“It was only by luck that none of the local residents were injured. We were very afraid. Our lives were in danger,” added one of the participants, who asked to remain anonymous.

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According to Magyar Nemzet, the number of wounded involved in the shooting battle may have been much higher than the three injured found by local officials. It is said that the gunfire could be heard for several hours from deep in the forest. Another local resident said he saw at least six ambulances heading toward the forest.

“If there were only three injured, why did six ambulances go?” asked one of the locals. The locals have witnessed the extent of people smuggling activity but are afraid to speak in front of the camera, fearing the consequences. Some complained that they do not understand why the official information is redacted.

“Is this what they want to spare us? It’s unnecessary, everyone knows what’s happening, everyone knows a forest ranger, doctor or paramedic who saw what’s happening,” said one of the locals to Magyar Nemzet.

The Hungarian press outlet wrote that “the people of Szatka are afraid, and not only in the forest but also in other parts of the city. Illegal immigrants can now be found almost anywhere: in the city center, on playgrounds, around the (migrant) reception center, at shopping centers, and often around the bus station as well. Dozens of migrants often get off the buses coming from the south, who immediately head toward the Hungarian border.”

Locals also described a steady stream of taxis arriving in the town and dropping off migrants who join the columns of men seeking to enter EU territory.

Remix News has produced a number of video shorts on the crisis at the Hungarian-Serbian border, which remains one of the major transit points for migrants coming into Europe.

This was not the first armed conflict between people smugglers in Serbia. As Remix News reported at the time, last November two groups of migrants engaged in a lengthy shootout in the Hungarian-inhabited village of Horgos in Serbia, situated one kilometer south of the Hungarian border. Locals complain of ongoing armed battles in the area, and police raids are conducted on a regular basis to dismantle people smuggling operations.

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