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Migrants leave Greek camp, head to Macedonia

| Monday, March 14, 2016, 7:09 p.m.
Migrants cross a river after leaving  the Idomeni refugee camp on March 13, 2016, in Idomeni, Greece. The decision by Macedonia to close its border to migrants on Wednesday has left thousands of people stranded at the Greek transit camp.
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Migrants cross a river after leaving the Idomeni refugee camp on March 13, 2016, in Idomeni, Greece. The decision by Macedonia to close its border to migrants on Wednesday has left thousands of people stranded at the Greek transit camp.

MOIN, Macedonia — Hundreds of migrants marched out of a Greek transit camp, hiked for hours along muddy paths and forded a rain-swollen river to get around a border fence and cross into Macedonia, where they were detained Monday, authorities said.

A Macedonian police spokeswoman said the several hundred migrants who had crossed into Macedonia would be sent back to Greece. A Reuters photographer put the number who crossed as high as 2,000.

About 30 journalists, including a Reuters photographer, who followed the migrants were also detained, witnesses said.

Earlier, Macedonian police said three migrants — two men and a woman — had drowned crossing a river near the Greek border that had been swollen by heavy rain.

The crossing put the migrant issue back in the spotlight days before leaders from the European Union and Turkey are scheduled to meet again to seal an agreement intended to keep migrants in Turkey from moving to Europe through Greece.

At least 12,000 people, including thousands of children, have been stranded in a sprawling tent city in northern Greece, their path to the EU blocked after Macedonia and other nations along the so-called Western Balkan route closed their borders.

On Monday, more than 1,000 migrants streamed out of the camp, searching for a way around the twin border fences Macedonia built to keep them out. A second group of migrants, many of them from war zones in Syria and Iraq, later followed them.

But after they crossed the border, Macedonian soldiers rounded them up and put the migrants in army trucks.

“We are taking measures to return the group to Greece,” the Macedonian police spokeswoman said.

Petros Tanos, a police spokesman in northern Greece, said police were investigating media reports that leaflets had circulated in the Idomeni camp urging migrants to march on Monday.

“We do not know who produced it ... nor how they found the ropes yet,” he told Reuters, referring to ropes used to cross the river.

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