VAN, Turkey

At least 70 irregular migrants were held in eastern Turkey, local authorities said on Sunday.

As part of probe into migrant smuggling and human trafficking, local gendarmerie forces conducted an operation in Van province where they found the migrants in a mini-van, said the Governor’s Office.

While two of the migrants were found dead inside the overcrowded vehicle, remaining 70 migrants were held by the security teams.

The asylum seekers included 37 Pakistani, 33 Afghan and two Iraqi nationals.

At least three human smuggling suspects, identified by the initials C.O., S.H. and H.O., were arrested.

Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

*Writing by Merve Aydogan in Ankara.

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