Austrian troops will carry out exercises preparing the nation’s border defence against a migration influx later this month after Balkans police warned 80,000 third-world migrants are heading towards Western Europe.
With up to 1,000 police officers, soldiers, and riot police set to take part in June, the drill will be Austria’s largest ever border patrol exercise, according to Kronen Zeitung, Austria’s best-selling newspaper.
The announcement came following a security conference in Slovenia at which police chiefs from countries along the Balkans migration routes warned they had seen a significant upsurge in the number of border crossings.
Speaking after the conference, Federal Criminal Police Office (BK) director Franz Lang said that the situation in the Balkans is “critical”, with 80,000 asylum seekers currently making their way through the region towards Western Europe.
“Everyone [at the conference] concluded there was cause for concern,” he said, telling the Austria Press Agency that countries including Albania reported the number of migrant arrivals having more than doubled since this time last year.
“It is mostly young males travelling alone that police see on this ‘mosque route’, many of whom could be considered to be potential jihadists,” Lang added.