Austria: ‘Lockdown’ as fears of migrant attack grow

Austria has called a “lockdown” on its border, as concerns about immigration and terrorism grow in Europe.

Security forces are reportedly planning to use helicopters, explosives and tear gas to stop a prospective asylum seeker entering Germany, while the number of migrants arriving in Europe has soared.

The country imposed the measure over fears that Islamic State could target Austria.

Other countries are following suit, as concerns grow about the number of migrants entering the bloc.

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Interior Minister Gerard Collomb announced the move in a visit to the border town of Graz.

He told Austrian national broadcaster ORF: “There is a risk that Islamic State could set up bases there to target Germany.”

German interior minister Horst Seehofer said the build-up was still out of control.

“On Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 730 people could be leaving a transit zone in Wissay-les-Bains, that’s 24 times the norm,” he said.

According to estimates by the German police, almost 25,000 people have made it to France from Italy since the start of 2018, up from 20,000 in the whole of 2017.

France’s Channel Tunnel-based motorway terminal in Calais is the main entry point for migrants making the long-distance dash to Britain.

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Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini has instructed police to shut down any group who tries to board lorries there.

Austria was being alerted to the threat after the Moroccan prime minister condemned Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

Mr Kurz was accused of stoking up racism by saying the case of one asylum seeker – a Muslim man who used a forged passport to enter Austria – showed the danger of freedom of movement in Europe.

During the French election campaign, both Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen opposed plans for a system for regulating the pace of migrant flows across the Mediterranean.

Italy’s interior minister, Marco Minniti, however, criticised that proposal and called for tighter border controls.

Austria’s Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, meanwhile, appealed to Britain to take back citizens who had entered the country illegally.

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