Channel crossings: Army shooting exercise ‘paused’ when migrant boat enters ‘danger zone’

Border force officer describes conditions migrants face in Channel

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The incident caused the shooting exercise to be halted as an emergency search was conducted by the Border Force and the Ministry of Defence. The search is said to have taken place over two hours and all of the migrants were located not long after.

The Ministry of Defence suspended the live firing drill at Lydd Ranges, near Dungeness, upon noticing a speedboat heading towards the shore after crossing the Channel, according to The Daily Mail.

The boat stopped at the “danger area” and 16 people ran inland.

Police and officials were immediately called.

The boat entered the three-mile coastal range spanning between Dymchurch and Hythe, which has been publicly advertised online to be off limits during certain times while the firing drills take place.

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The area was closed off from 8.30 to 11pm last Wednesday.

“Any of the migrants could have been killed,” a local who witnessed the situation told The Mail.

“They were clearly unaware of the dangers of being on MoD land when firing practice was ongoing.”

The range in Kent has been used for military training exercises for 150 years.

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It is 200 years old, making it one of the oldest military firing ranges in the country.

Red flags are put up to signal when live firing is taking place and the were visible on Wednesday when the boat entered the “danger zone”.

A Home Office spokesman said: “In the rare event where beach landings do occur, we use aerial surveillance to guide the rapid deployment of officers.”

Last Wednesday, when the migrants entered the live drill exercise zone, a record number of people crossed the Channel on boats.

Reports show that 21 boats made it across the Channel carrying at least 482 people.

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