EU weighs more Belarus sanctions over migrants

Hundreds of migrants huddled in freezing temperatures near Poland's border with Belarus on Tuesday as Polish guards and razor-wire fences blocked their entry into the European Union.

Officials told Reuters the EU is closing in on another round of sanctions on Belarus, targeting some 30 entities including the country's foreign minister and airline Belavia.

It's accused Minsk of encouraging migrants from Africa and the Middle East to illegally enter the EU -- what it calls "gangster-style tactics" and "hybrid warfare."

They claim it's revenge for western sanctions on President Alexander Lukashenko's government over human rights abuses, following its violent crackdown on protests against a disputed election last year.

At least seven migrants have died in the months-long standoff and the European Union said some 2000 migrants have now reached the border.

A Polish spokesman claimed Belarusian security personnel were "firing empty shots into the air, simulating dangerous events", while also providing tools to help migrants destroy the border fence.

Poland's Border Guard recorded over 300 illegal attempts to breach the frontier on Monday and detained over a dozen people, primarily Iraqis.

Lithuania has also reported a surge in attempted migrant crossings and declared a state of emergency along its border with Belarus.

Lukashenko's government has denied engineering the migrant crisis, and summoned Polish officials on Tuesday to protest what it calls "unfounded allegations" about its involvement.

Meanwhile, Poland denies accusations by humanitarian groups that it is violating the international right to asylum by hustling migrants back into Belarus instead of accepting their applications for protection.

Warsaw says the actions its taking on its border are legal.

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