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Hungary declares emergency, seals border, detains migrants

Police officers distribute food to migrants at the border to Hungary in Horgos, Serbia, on Tuesday. Hungary has declared a state of emergency in two of its southern counties bordering Serbia because of the migration crisis, giving special powers to police and other authorities.Tamas Soki/AP

Police officers distribute food to migrants at the border to Hungary in Horgos, Serbia, on Tuesday. Hungary has declared a state of emergency in two of its southern counties bordering Serbia because of the migration crisis, giving special powers to police and other authorities.

HUNGARY OUTTAMAS SOKI/EPA

Hungary said it registered 9,380 illegal crossings, nearly doubling the previous record and roughly three times the daily average of recent weeks, as people rushed to make it into the country before the fence closed and new laws kicked in.

KOCA SULEJMANOVIC/EPA

Migrants walk towards the border crossing in Horgos. Hungary has sealed the last gap in the barricade along its border with Serbia, closing the passage to thousands of refugees and migrants still waiting on the other side.

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Hungary declared a state of emergency and shut its border to refugees Tuesday as the infighting among European nations over the crisis intensified.

Heavily armed soldiers with dogs walked the demarcation between Hungary and Serbia and watched as it was sealed off with massive coils of barbed wire.

The military move sparked chaos among the thousands of desperate asylum seekers hoping to pass through to Germany.

The seal will also be extended to Hungary’s border with Romania, officials said.

Austria also imposed new controls on its border. As of midnight, travelers coming from Hungary would have to carry a passport or an identity card recognized by the European Union to gain entry, Austrian officials said.

The requirement may be extended to Austria’s borders with Slovenia, Italy and Slovakia, officials said.

The increased control is meant to “maintain public order” amid fears among some Europeans that “disguised terrorists” have blended in with refugees.

The exodus of Syrians and Iraqis toward Europe surged when Islamic State terrorists lost control of a key crossroads town in Syria in June.

Reports that some militants mixed with the flood of fleeing Syrians rushing to the Turkish border have raised concerns among some EU nations.

Intelligence officials in France and Germany expressed skepticism about the danger, noting they have no specific evidence.

Other experts point out that Europe faces greater risk from home grown terrorists who travel with EU documents and have the means to plan an attack.

But with Europe’s system strained to the breaking point and few — if any — check points or passport controls, even Pope Francis has urged caution.

In an interview with a Portuguese Catholic radio station broadcast Monday, he recalled that the Bible requires that strangers be welcomed, but acknowledged the need for precautions.

“It’s true that 250 miles from Sicily there is an exceedingly cruel terrorist guerrilla group, and it’s true there’s the danger of infiltration,” Francis said, according to the Associated Press.

Last week U.S. intelligence officials also acknowledged concerns that Europe’s haphazard response might allow terrorists to slip through undetected.

“We don’t obviously put it past the likes of (ISIS) to infiltrate operatives among these refugees,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Sept. 9.

Security concerns mean many EU countries are at odds over how to tackle the region’s worst refugee crisis since World War II.

Some, like Germany, back a plan to spread refugees across Europe to help ease the burden.

But others, especially eastern European nations, say they are opposed to being told how many asylum seekers that have to accept.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel had to mend fences on Tuesday, calling for a special EU refugee summit, after one of her ministers angrily suggested that countries unwilling to help get slapped with financial penalties.

Migrants wait to enter a transit camp in Gevgelija, Macedonia, after entering the country by crossing the border with Greece. Two decades of frontier-free travel across Europe unravelled on Monday as countries re-established border controls in the face of an unprecedented influx of migrants.OGNEN TEOFILOVSKI/REUTERS

Migrants wait to enter a transit camp in Gevgelija, Macedonia, after entering the country by crossing the border with Greece. Two decades of frontier-free travel across Europe unravelled on Monday as countries re-established border controls in the face of an unprecedented influx of migrants.

“I think we need to establish a European spirit again … I don’t think threats are the right way to achieve agreement,” Merkel said.

Her words did little to soothe the Czech Republic and Slovakia, two countries that object to the plan to share refugees.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government took the toughest stance by closing the border Tuesday.

That forced dozens of refugees caught in no-man’s land between Serbia and Hungary to board buses to Croatia — which is part of the EU but isn’t included in its visa-free travel zone.

From Croatia, the migrants hope to find a new route into Europe.

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Nation / World – NY Daily News

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