17-year-old migrant killed in shootout at sea between human smugglers and Greek police

A life vest is placed on a barb wire at the Greece - Macedonian border line on Aug 29, 2015. The EU is grappling with an unprecedented influx of people fleeing war, repression and poverty in what the bloc has described as its worst refugee crisis in
A life vest is placed on a barb wire at the Greece - Macedonian border line on Aug 29, 2015. The EU is grappling with an unprecedented influx of people fleeing war, repression and poverty in what the bloc has described as its worst refugee crisis in 50 years.PHOTO: AFP

ATHENS (AFP) - A 17-year-old migrant was killed during a shootout at sea between Greek port police and human smugglers, the government said late on Saturday.

"A serious incident occurred off the island of Symi when a yacht carrying 70 migrants from Turkey's western shores tried to illegally enter (Greek waters)," the Marine Ministry said in a statement.

Greek port police and officials from the EU border agency Frontex managed to halt and board the boat.

Shots were fired during scuffles between the police and three Turkish suspected people smugglers, the ministry said.

One of the suspected smugglers, who were all arrested, admitted to injuring an officer after grabbing his pistol, the statement added.

The dead migrant was "probably killed by gunfire", a doctor at Symi health centre was quoted as saying.

An investigation into his death has been launched. No details on his origin were given.

Marine Minister Christos Zois expressed sadness over the youth's death while praising the police for their "daily struggle in difficult conditions to aid migrants".

Greece is struggling to cope with the arrival of unprecedented numbers of people seeking refuge in Europe, mostly asylum-seekers fleeing wars in the Middle East and Asia.

Over 160,000 migrants have landed on Greece's shores so far this year.