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Macedonia fires tear gas at migrants on Greek border

Macedonian police have again fired tear gas and stun grenades at a group of refugees and migrants trying to cross the closed border at Idomeni, where 11,000 people remain stranded.

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Clashes in Idomeni

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) border police fired tear gas and stun grenades on Wednesday at several dozen frustrated refugees and migrants protesting the closure of the border in northern Greece, in the latest saga along the migrant trail to Europe.

Protestors demanded Macedonian police open the border, while some attempted to break through the razor wire, triggering the Macedonian response. Greek police then intervened to break up the crowd.

No injuries were reported in the clashes, the second this week after Macedonian police on Sunday used tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets and water cannons to push back several hundreds of migrants who tried to break through the border fence. Those clashes left some 250 injured.

Macedonia has accused Greece of failing to prevent camp residents from trying to cross the border, while Greece has accused its northern neighbor of using excessive force.

The clashes on Sunday were triggered after flyers were distributed in Arabic that said the border was open. Previous distribution of flyers and subsequent border incidents have been attributed to activists.

On Monday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras blamed foreign activists for "inciting" migrants to storm the fence.

About 11,000 migrants and refugees fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Asia have been marooned at the makeshift camp at the Idomeni border since the Balkan route was closed early last month.

The border closure has helped stem the flow of refugees reaching northern European countries, but the bottleneck is taking a toll on Greece, where more than 50,000 migrants and refugees remain stuck after arriving from Turkey.

The Greek government is encouraging those at Idomeni to move to reception centers, but many of the migrants are holding out in hopes of making the land crossing to northern Europe. On Monday and Tuesday, about 700 migrants agreed to be transported in buses to a reception center in northern Greece.

In order to overcome the refugee crisis, the European Union is banking on a refugee deal with Turkey. Under that agreement, the EU agrees to accept one Syrian refugee in exchange for every Syrian refugee resettled in Turkey.

cw/kl (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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