Reports of shots fired at Turkey-Greece border

Greek authorities have reported that Turkish security guards fired gunshots into the air at the Evros border with Greece in two separate incidents within the space of a few hours, Greek newspaper Kathimerini said.

Kathimerini said Greek police had reported hearing shots on Tuesday night near the Greek village of Marasia, on the bank of the river Evros - known as the Meriç river in Turkey.

In a second incident, more shots were fired by Turkish police who were on patrol along the river near the Greek village of Tychero on Wednesday afternoon, Kathimerini said.

Turkish border security also reportedly fired shots into the air near Tychero last Thursday. 

Greek security officials believed the incidents may be an attempt to maintain pressure against Greece along the border, Kathimerini said.

A video purportedly showing Greek fighter jets intercepting two Turkish F-16s which had violated Greek airspace over the Aegean was leaked to the media on Tuesday, Greek Reporter news site said. 

A separate set of Turkish jets harassed a helicopter carrying Greek Defence Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos on Sunday.

Turkey's violation of Greek airspace and territorial waters in the Aegean Sea sharply increased in 2019, especially over the last months of the year, Greek Reporter said in January, citing a report by the Hellenic National Defence General Staff.

"The number of violations of Greek national airspace by Turkish military aircraft reached 4,811 in 2019, the largest number in one calendar year since 1987. There were 384 mock dogfights between Greek and Turkish fighter jets last year, while there were only 13 such fights in 2010," the report said.

Tensions have been growing between Turkey and Greece over recent weeks due to a dispute over gas exploration rights off the coast of Cyprus, Turkish claims to Greek waters, and Turkey’s decision to open its land borders in late February to migrants and refugees seeking to enter Greece. 

Greece sealed its land border after thousands of people were bussed to the Turkish side in late February and early March, and weeks of tension followed as Athens accused Turkey of encouraging and aiding migrants and refugees as they attempted to cross the border.