The Öresund bridge. Photo: Johan Nilsson/Scanpix

51 Syrians smuggled over bridge into Sweden

Five men have been arrested on suspicion of trying to smuggle 51 Syrian asylum seekers across the Öresund Bridge into Sweden. The alleged traffickers were stopped by the police on the Swedish side of the bridge on Wednesday.

Late on Wednesday afternoon, a bus with 45 Syrians on board, along with four men suspected of organising the journey, was stopped on the bridge which links Sweden and Denmark. Several hours later in a separate incident, a further six Syrians in a mini van was intercepted. The driver, based in Gothenburg, was also arrested.

All the Syrians have been put up in a hotel and are not suspected of any crime.

According to the police, such an extensive alleged smuggling operation is highly unusual.

"I have not encountered this before," says Malmö police officer Anders Krister Andersson, to newspaper Sydsvenskan.

All 51 Syrians are understood to be seeking asylum in Sweden.

"They are being looked after by us and will be applying for asylum during the day, I presume, says Migration Board press officer Fredrik Bengtsson to news agency TT.

The Migration Board expects an increase in the number of Syrian refugees coming to Sweden.

"Given the situation in Syria it is reasonable to assume that more and more are looking to countries such as Sweden, since Sweden is one of the few countries in Europe that actually grants any permission," says Migration Board's press officer Fredrik Bengtsson.

"At the beginning of the year, we saw the number of Syrians coming here as smaller than we had expected. Then we concluded that it was the reinforced border controls , especially at the Greek border , which had made it harder for Syrians to get into Europe. In recent weeks, we have seen that the trend has been broken, now we see more and more Syrians coming to Sweden ." Fredrik Bengtsson says.

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