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Police Hunt For Kosovo Stowaways

A massive manhunt was launched across the Warwickshire countryside at lunchtime today after 27 refugees, believed to be from Kosovo, jumped out of a lorry parked near Rugby and fled into nearby fields. The stunned lorry driver raised the alarm after spotting the refugees, some believed to be as young as 10 years old, jumping out of the back of his lorry.

He had stopped at the BP Truckstop on A5, just east of Rugby, for a break and had been unaware of his illegal passengers until they began running off. Police spent the afternoon searching the local area for the refugees who scattered in all directions.

A group of about 10 men were spotted just after 2pm in Lilbourne, just a mile from the truckstop. One villager saw them as she drove home. She said:

‘’I saw this group of ten or so young men. One of them did try to speak to me but I didn’t understand him. I thought they were French students. They were quite smartly dressed and some of them seemed very young indeed.’’

Police used patrol cars and a helicopter to scour the locality in the hope of finding the stowaways.

The refugees are not the first to visit Rugby. Last month a group of 12 stowaways were caught after jumping from a lorry at the same truckstop. And last Friday a Bedworth lorry driver drove directly to his local police station after realising he had two unexpected passengers in the back of his lorry. They too had been from Kosovo. The driver had stopped at Corley Services on the M6 to rest but once he had realised he was carrying refugees he got back into his cab and drove off with them still inside.

A spokeswoman for Warwickshire police said the problem was a growing one. She said:

‘’Since 24 December last year we have dealt with 184 refugees in Warwickshire. A large proportion of those have been from Kosovo but also from Afghanistan.

‘’It seems that we in Warwickshire have the problem because we are the first stop that drivers coming from the continent make. They get as far as the Midlands and stop for a break, often in Warwickshire. When their lorries come to a halt that is when the refugees make their move.’’

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CWN / Politics / 29 Sep 98 / Police Hunt For Kosovo Stowaways

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