Thirty-one illegal immigrants from Syria were arrested when they attempted to enter northern Cyprus aboard a truck ferried from Turkey, daily Kibris reported on Friday.
Police in the Turkish Cypriot-controlled area, acting on a tip-off, seized the illegal immigrants in secret parts of the truck Thursday morning at the eastern port of Famagusta.
The truck driver and its owner, who came to the island by another ferryboat the same day, were also arrested. They are both Turkish citizens.
Initial investigations found that the Syrians had paid 20,000 U.S. dollars and planned to pass to the Greek Cypriot-administrated south, which is part of the European Union since May 2004.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey intervened and occupied the north of Cyprus following a coup by a group of Greek officers who pushed for union with Greece.
In 1983, the Turkish Cypriot authorities declared breakaway and set up "the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," which is only recognized by Turkey.