VAN, Turkey

A total of 65 irregular migrants were held in Turkey’s eastern province of Van on Saturday.

In a statement, the provincial security directorate said security forces stopped a suspicious minibus in the Ipekyolu district.

The 15-person minibus was carrying 24 Afghans, 20 Pakistanis, seven Syrians, 12 Bangladeshis, and two Myanmar nationals, all of whom entered the country illegally.

The minibus driver, identified as M.G., was arrested.

The irregular migrants were later referred to the provincial migration directorate.

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

Some 268,000 irregular migrants were held in Turkey in 2018, according to the Interior Ministry, and over 336,000 have been held so far this year.

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