Croatian police shoot two refugee children

Croatian police shoot two refugee children
Two refugee children have been shot by Croatian police and are being treated in the coastal town of Zadar.
2 min read
Croatian police shot two refugee children [Getty]

Croatian police said Thursday they opened fire on two 12-year-old refugee children from Iraq and Afghanistan after a van they were travelling in refused to stop.

The shooting occurred around 10pm Wednesday (8pm GMT) when the vehicle illegally crossed the border from Bosnia, spokesman Elis Zodan told AFP.

Police opened fire and then discovered 29 illegal migrants in the van, including the two children, who were hospitalised and are now in stable conditions, he said.

The driver of the van, that had Austrian registration plates, fled into the woods and police were searching for him, Zodan added.

Police said they twice tried to halt the van but the driver "charged the vehicle at police... after which they opened fire", according to the spokesman.

The children were hospitalised in the coastal town of Zadar and their lives were not in danger, the state-run HINA news agency said.

The migrants - included 15 children in total - and were "mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan, members of several families", the spokesman said.

European Union member Croatia lies on the so-called Balkans route used in 2015 and 2016 by hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

The route was closed in March 2016 but much smaller numbers of people still cross the region to reach the EU. A new route through Bosnia has been opened since the start of the year.