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Migrants attempt river crossing into Macedonia

The rain-swollen river lacks the barbed-wire fence installed across the border between the two countries.

By Ed Adamczyk

IDOMENI , Greece, March 14 (UPI) -- More than 1,000 people crossed a river from a refugee camp in Greece into Macedonia on Monday, though Macedonian officials say they will be returned to Greece.

The refugees, largely from Syria and Afghanistan and attempting to travel through Europe to seek asylum, left a deteriorating camp at Idomeni, Greece, walked several miles and attempted to cross the Axios River separating the two countries. They left in a long line, carrying their possessions as the procession snaked along a hilly road, and followed a rope installed across the river to Macedonia.

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About 1,000 traveled together early Monday, followed later by a group of about 500 more. Although Macedonia has secured its border with miles of barbed wire, the river is a regarded as a natural barrier meant to keep people from crossing. Hours before the outflow of refugees, three Afghan migrants drowned while attempting to cross the river.

Macedonian intelligence sources said police and the army "intervened" to collect those who entered the country, adding the migrants will be returned to Greece. It was unclear how many were detained by Macedonian officials, and where they will be taken.

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About 12,000 people remain at the sprawling Idomeni camp.

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