Locals Live in Fear Amid Massive Migrant Gun Battles Near Hungarian Border

Locals Live in Fear Amid Massive Migrant Gun Battles Near Hungarian Border

Migrant smuggling gangs are doing battle with the police and each other, leaving at least one dead and locals sleeping on their floors to reduce the chance of catching a stray bullet in bed.

The village of Hajdukovo/Hajdújárás, a small farming community in the north of Serbia on the Hungarian border has been described as a terrifying warzone this past week as what are reported to be migrant smuggler gangs face off in hours-long gun battles, with household security footage audio attesting to the persistent sound of automatic gunfire. A significant police deployment is now underway but residents told local authorities at a community meeting Friday that if that wasn’t enough, then the army must be deployed.

The battles started last Monday, in a two-hour long fight which left one dead and several injured, and “pools of blood” and discarded bandages littering the streets and orchards of the village the next morning. Hungarian state broadcaster MTVA reports on the plight of the locals, who are ethnically majority Hungarian, describing how the migrant smuggler gangs were “shooting indiscriminately at everything and everyone between the houses and in the gardens” on Monday 24th.

Because of the weakness of the European Union’s external border and asylum policies, human trafficking has become an extremely lucrative — if deadly — business in Europe. In Hajdukovo, gangs may be fighting over territory and customers.

Locals fled to their homes and ” lay on the ground to avoid being hit by the bullets raining down from all directions” amid what was described as warlike conditions seeing “without a break, machine guns roared from all directions and the bursts rained down”. Some said they were worried someone would be hit by stray gunfire, or the gangs would shoot one of their cows in the dark.

One local who asked not to be named out of fear the gangs would seek to exact revenge, told the broadcaster: “I didn’t dare to come to the window. I sat down in the room on the floor so that if the bullet entered, it wouldn’t hit me. This is a disaster here. It’s a disaster”.

“Presumably, Afghan migrants wanted to settle scores with each other”, one report caustically notes, but nevertheless as well as shooting at one another, the gangs also exchanged fire with the police, Serbian broadcaster Pannon RTV reports.

An official announcement on Monday’s battle revealed medics discovered several victims, including a dead Afghan lying near a main road, and an injured Afghan male lying nearby.

The violence continued through the week, local witnesses state, and there was another major battle on Friday evening, just hours after a local resident’s meeting to address the problem of shootings took place with the regional mayor in the village. Magyar Nemzet reports shooting continued Friday despite a heavier police presence and locals spoke of being able to “hear the migrants and human traffickers shooting each other from afar”.

Residents had told local authorities at the community meeting that if the regional government can’t keep the village safe, then the military should be deployed, and even with police patroling, migrant gangs are still “hiding in the area”.

“Automatic weapons” were again in evidence in Friday’s battle and a local resident said how his son discovered used brass casings littering the grass outside their home. In all, Pannon reported, the everyday lives of village residents “are made unbearable by the armed showdowns of migrant gangs”.

While the intensity of the violence may be shocking to Hajdukovo locals, this is not the first time in recent memory the Serbia-Hungary border has played host to tragic scenes fostered by mass migratory flows. The Hungarian border was a serious flashpoint in the 2016 migrant crisis, and even the village of Hajdukovo has not been untouched before, with bloody fights between migrant gangs taking place in the very same village just a year before.

Hirado recounts:”A year ago, an even bloodier clash took place in the same place. Then Pakistani and Afghan migrants and people smugglers shot at each other. The rescuers had to treat a total of 6 illegal immigrants, and one migrant died from the gunshots.” Their television report also cites other local gun battles taking place on a weekly basis in the area recently.

They report that: “For over a year warzone-like conditions have persisted along a stretch of the frontier’s Serbian side, with footage emerging of such migrant shootouts taken place on a weekly basis now. The migrant gangs now find themselves kitted out with automatic rifles, camouflage pattern uniforms, [identity concealing] masks, and ridiculous stockpiles of ammunition”.

After Friday’s battle, an increased police presence over the weekend may have seen violence slow. Per reports, while migrant gangs were again reported by locals on Sunday evening, police were able to respond quickly and make arrests, and no gun battles are reported to have taken place. Whether the problem is solved or has simply moved to a less well-patrolled area is yet to be seen: as Pannon RTV notes, gunfire was heard on Sunday evening in Palić, Serbia instead — another border village three miles westwards.