FILE - In this Sept. 16, 2015 file photo, a young boy looks at police officers after he and other migrants were pulled out of a train by German Federal Police at the train station of the southern German border town Passau, German newspaper 'Welt am Sonntag' reports that the government planned to close the border with Austria and turn back asylum-seekers in September 2015, but nixed the plan at the last minute., the paper reported Sunday March 5, 2017. The interior ministry said in a statement it could “neither confirm nor deny” the report. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber,file)

Report: Germany wanted to turn back refugees in Sept 2015

March 05, 2017 - 8:35 am

BERLIN (AP) — A German newspaper reports that the government planned to close the border with Austria and turn back asylum-seekers in September 2015, at the height of the European refugee crisis.

Welt am Sonntag reports Chancellor Angela Merkel and her ministers agreed Sept. 12 to send thousands of police to shut the frontier the following evening, but the plan was halted hours before it was due to take effect.

Citing interviews with several high-ranking officials involved at the time, the paper reported Sunday that ministers didn't want to take responsibility for a decision that might be illegal. The possibility of unpopular images of police officers blocking women and children was reportedly also a concern.

The interior ministry said in a statement it could "neither confirm nor deny" the report.

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