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Armed Vigilantes Hunt Migrants on the Edge of Europe

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    Armed Vigilantes Hunt Migrants on the Edge of Europe
    Mac William Bishop/NBC News
    Members of BNO Shipka gather for a patrol near Bulgaria's border with Turkey

    Figures in camouflage and ski masks gather at a fishing lodge. Many are armed with long knives, bayonets and hatchets, NBC News reported.

    The 35 men and women are on the hunt in Strandzha Massif, a forested mountain range on Bulgaria's border with Turkey. Migrants trying to cross into Europe are their prey.

    Patches on their irregular uniforms — a coat of arms bearing a snarling wolf's head framed by Cyrillic text — proclaim them to be members of the Bulgarian National Movement Shipka, abbreviated in Bulgarian as "BNO Shipka."

    Conspiracy theories abound among BNO Shipka members, some of whom make a point of speaking Russian. 

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    Krassimir Kanev, a founder of the human rights group Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, sees BNO Shipka and similar groups as xenophobic nationalists at best, or at worst, violent and racist extremists.