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Bodies of seven Afghan refugees found off Turkish coast

ISTANBUL

Seven Afghan migrants, including three children, died after their boat sank late on Monday off Turkey’s northwest province of Canakkale, the Turkish coastguard said.

The boat was carrying 20 people when it sank, they said in a statement, adding that 12 other Afghan migrants and an Iranian national had been rescued by fishing boats and search and rescue teams.

The refugees will be taken to a repatriation centre and their situation will be assessed, a spokesman for the Canakkale immigration authority said.

The Iranian was detained on suspicion of being a human trafficker, the state-run news agency Anadolu said. The boat had been heading to the Greek island of Lesbos, it said.

More than a million people entered the EU in 2015, mostly fleeing conflicts and poverty in the Middle East and Africa, marking the biggest influx of refugees and migrants into Europe since World War Two.

Since then the main eastern Mediterranean route between Turkey and Greece has been largely shut by a deal between the EU and Ankara.

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