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Greece-Macedonia border: Tear gas allegedly fired into camp housing women and children -

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KIM LANDERS: There have been violent scenes at a border camp in Greece with Macedonian border guards allegedly firing tear gas canisters directly into the area housing women and children.

Authorities have also used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of asylum seekers after they tried to break through the border fence.

Some migrants responded by pelting Macedonian police with stones and at least 200 people needed medical care after the clashes.

Anne Barker reports.

(sounds of asylum seekers speaking)

ANNE BARKER: More than 10,000 asylum seekers are still camped at Idomeni on Greece's northern border undeterred since Macedonia and surrounding countries sealed their borders to Western Europe.

Weeks of frustration and desperation reached boiling point when a group of migrants approached Macedonian border guards to again plead to be allowed in.

One man Abu Mohamed from Syria said he'd had enough of waiting.

ABU MOHAMED (translated): Today is decisive for everyone. Either we go through and die trying or die in Greece. This is the last day, this is our last hope.

ANNE BARKER: But things turned ugly as the request was rejected.

Another group of migrants began walking towards the border and soon at least 500 people tried to push through the border fence.

(sounds of protestors)

In several places asylum seekers managed to breach through the fence into Macedonia.

Riot police on the other side forced them back using tear gas and rubber bullets.

(sound of gun fire)

Asylum seekers threw rocks in return.

The confrontation lasted hours.

One Syrian migrant had a broken arm.

SYRIAN MIGRANT (translated): The tear gas was used and very closely followed by firing stun grenades and rubber bullets. It was not gradual, they used it all immediately one after the other and this caused a negative reaction from the protesters and angered them and enraged them.

ANNE BARKER: Aid organisations said they were treating people for tear gas exposure.

Jonas Hagensen from the agency Medecins Sans Frontieres says several people were seriously injured.

JONAS HAGENSEN: We treated around 200 people for tear gas, mostly men, but also women and children under five years old. And we also referred I think around seven patients to the local hospital with open wounds, suspected fractures and more serious injuries.

ANNE BARKER: Macedonian authorities say several people on their side were injured too when hit with rocks.

But a photojournalist with the French news agency AFP - Bulent Kilic - says the force from the Macedonian side was excessive.

BULENT KILIC (translated): They were shooting teargas directly at people. And there were many people injured from the teargas and canisters. Today Macedonian police fired teargas directly into the camps and the babies and the children are in really bad condition.

People tried to bring them to the emergency services, they were crying. It was a really hard day on the migrants and the refugees.

ANNE BARKER: Greece's government too has hit out at Macedonia.

George Kyritsis is a migration official.

GEORGE KYRITSIS (translated): The extensive and indiscriminate use of tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets against women and children is a deplorable and extremely dangerous practice. At the same time we call on the refugees not to trust or believe the lies that they are being told about the borders. They must understand that the borders are closed.

ANNE BARKER: Greek authorities have begun sending asylum seekers back to Turkey if they're found not to be genuine refugees in line with a European accord with Ankara.

They're trying to move people from the Macedonian border into proper camps but many are refusing to leave no doubt worried they too will be forced back to Turkey.

But staying at Idomeni is no longer a safe option.

(sounds of Afghani woman speaking)

"We came here with the hope that we'd have a safer life, calm and education, and we have none of this," says this woman from Afghanistan.

More than a million people fleeing conflict have poured into Europe in the past year.

KIM LANDERS: Anne Barker reporting.