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Migrants disrupt cross-Channel trains after breaking into Calais terminal

Over 100 refugees have attempted to storm the Channel Tunnel, clashing with staff and police and disrupting trains between the UK and France. The intrusion was "organized and coordinated," Eurotunnel officials say.

Trains traveling through the Channel Tunnel were running with delays on Saturday, after a large group of migrants forced their way into the Eurotunnel terminal on the French side and got onto the tracks overnight.

"At around 12:30 a.m. (French local time, 2230 UTC on Friday), around 100 migrants forced a closure and the entry of security agents into the tunnel," a Eurotunnel spokeswoman told the AFP news agency.

The storming of the tunnel was "well-organized and coordinated," forcing the railway company to call for police reinforcements, Eurotunnel officials said.

Ten people sustained minor injuries in the scuffle, including seven refugees, according to a firefighter at the scene.

"The migrants went quite far into the tunnel, about 15 kilometers (9 miles)," Fabienne Buccio, head of the Pas-de-Calais region, told the AFP news agency.

The company suspended train traffic for hours for "safety reasons," as the security forces were tracking the migrants down, according to the railway company.

Pushing against smugglers

The overnight confrontation is only the latest incident involving migrants heading to Britain through the tunnel linking Kent and Calais. At least 13 people have died while attempting to make their way through the 50-kilometer (31-mile) tunnel since late June, including an

African refugee who was hit by a freight train

last week.

The number of tunnel intrusions peaked in July this year, with some 2,000 people trying to cross to Britain every night. Some 3,000 migrants, mostly from Afghanistan, Syria and various African countries, are living in slum-like camps near Calais.

The crisis prompted both the UK and France to boost security and crack down on illegal crossings. In addition, interior ministers of the two countries signed an agreement in August to set up a new "command and control centre"

targeting smuggling gangs

in Calais.

Train traffic between the UK and France is expected to return to normal later in the day.

dj/rc (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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