“A big group of illegal migrants attempted to enter Bulgaria from Turkey. One man suffered a gunshot wound in the incident and died on the way to hospital,” an interior ministry spokeswoman told AFP.
The incident happened near the south-eastern Bulgarian town of Sredets on Thursday evening, she said, adding that the dead man was from Afghanistan.
The interior ministry’s chief of staff, Georgy Kostov, said that the group of 50 people – all from Afghanistan – was intercepted by a patrol of two border guards and a police officer after crossing into Bulgarian territory.
“They put up resistance during the arrest. One of the officers fired warning shots and, in his words, one of the migrants was wounded by a ricochet and later died,” Kostov told BNR local radio.
He did not confirm initial allegations that the group was armed.
The Burgas regional prosecution had opened an investigation, Kostov added.
This is the first serious incident in the European Union’s non-Schengen zone member, Bulgaria, which has so far been bypassed by displaced people on their way to western Europe.
In a move to buttress its porous 260km (160-mile) border with Turkey, Bulgaria built a 30km razor-wire fence along part of it and dispatched some 2,000 border guards, police and army to guard the rest.
The incident prompted Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to leave an EU summit in Brussels on the refugee crisis and fly back home late on Thursday.
“Prime Minister Borisov informed me just before he left. It shows how important our discussion was … We are ready to help rebuilding of control of our external borders,” European council president Donald Tusk said in Brussels.