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Three Killed in Greece-Turkey Border Clash

December 20, 1986|From Times Wire Services

Greek and Turkish border patrols exchanged fire Friday, killing three soldiers, spokesmen for the two governments said.

Greek government spokesman George Sefertzis said in Athens that a Greek soldier was killed and another wounded in fighting on the Evros River near Feres, a town about 250 miles northeast of Athens. Sefertzis said the skirmish took place as Iranian refugees crossed into Greece from Turkey illegally.

A spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry in Ankara said a Turkish officer and a private were killed in the clash between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies.

Greeks' Account

Greek sources said the incident occurred when a three-man Greek patrol challenged Turkish soldiers about 100 yards inside Greek territory. Sources said Greek troops appeared to be mobilizing on the border following the incident.

However, Turkish officials said the incident began when two Greek soldiers crossed the border and were warned to draw back. At that point, the Turks said, a Greek squad fired across the border, killing a Turkish private. Other Turkish troops rushed to the scene and in the ensuing battle a Greek soldier and a Turkish lieutenant were killed, the officials said.

Incident a First

Turkish and Greek soldiers have exchanged fire in the past as Greeks tried to stop Iranian refugees from entering the country illegally from Turkey, but Friday's incident was the first in which there have been casualties.

There are about 150 Iranian refugees in Greece, but about 20,000 others have gathered in the Turkish border city of Edirne hoping to enter Greece.

Relations between the two traditional foes have been strained since 1974 when Turkey responded to a pro-Greek coup on Cyprus by launching an invasion of the island.

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