FOLLOWING an exchange of fire with Slovak police, an armed man alleged to be a human trafficker from Ukraine died on August 2 near the Ukrainian border.

A member of the border guard shot dead the man they said was in the act of smuggling five Vietnamese migrants between the villages of Nová Sedlica and Zboj in the district of Snina.

Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák said this particular smuggler was known to be dangerous and aggressive, and the border police had been searching for him ever since he fired shots at police officers last year. The minister said the man did not respond to police appeals and warning shots, the TASR newswire reported.

“The loss of life is something which cannot make us happy, but in this case the incident could not be avoided,” Kaliňák said, as quoted by the TA3 private broadcaster.

Slovak authorities will return all detained Vietnamese migrants back to Ukraine following the EU Return Directive.

EU legislation says that illegal immigrants should be sent back to their home country or to the country from which they travelled into the EU, according to the Pravda daily.

The current situation in Ukraine has not resulted in an increase in the number of people trafficked through the Slovak-Ukrainian border so far, but smugglers are more aggressive and better armed than before, Kaliňák said, as quoted by TASR.

“I believe that this [case] will have a preventive effect and the situation will calm down,” Kaliňák said, as quoted by the Sme daily.

He added that this incident confirms that increasing border security was a good decision.

Currently, the 40-kilometre long border is patrolled by more than 900 police officers and 500 cameras, which are substituted by thermo cameras at night. Police also use a photographic trigger system hidden in the hilly terrain, one drone with a camera and a geo-radar seeking underground tunnels, according to Pravda.

“I think that [the Slovak-Ukraine border] is the most secured one from all borders with Ukraine for sure,” Kaliňák said, as quoted by TA3. “It is not just our opinion, it is also [cited] in last year’s evaluation of the European Commission.”