Migrants from the Calais Jungle camp are using a deadly new tactic in their attempts to get to Britain.
Ruthless gangs are deliberately causing crashes on the roads to the French port by hurling large objects at cars – then sneaking on to lorries caught up in the resulting tailbacks.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has spoken out after a team of Mail on Sunday journalists narrowly escaped death last week when three migrants threw a log at their car, forcing it into the path of a 38-ton juggernaut.
After being briefed about the incident, Ms Rudd issued a statement describing the development as ‘extremely concerning’.
She added: ‘It’s vital that people feel safe when using the Channel ports. This shows just how it is in all our interests to combat attempts to enter the UK illegally.’
Reporter Ben Ellery, 32, and photographers Steve Burton and John McLellan were all injured when their British-registered Audi swerved to avoid the missile.
They then hit the lorry, sending their vehicle spinning out of control. The juggernaut dragged the car sideways for about 50 yards.
The three men were later rushed to hospital for treatment. Ellery’s head was gashed to the bone after it struck the steering wheel, and he required eight stitches.
McLellan, 60, was left with deep cuts to his face, and Burton, 57, suffered a gash on his head and severe bruising to his back.
They had been investigating a shocking explosion of violence at the squalid migrant camp and the growing number of attacks on trucks heading for Britain.
This sinister escalation risks the lives of thousands of British families using ferries and the Channel Tunnel as they return from their summer holidays. And it comes ahead of planned ‘go slow’ protest by French truckers tomorrow that is likely to cause chaos for returning tourists.
French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve has pledged to close the camp – where numbers have swelled by 3,000 to more than 9,000 – by the end of the year, but local residents want him to speed up the process. An extra 200 police officers have been dispatched to the area and uniformed French troops have also started patrolling.
A Calais police source told The Mail on Sunday there had been a number of reported incidents ‘of projectiles being thrown directly at cars, so as to force them to stop’.
Dazed and bloodied: Ben Ellery staggers to the side of the road after the crash
He said the menacing new tactic – along with blockades on the road –’was of huge concern, and was likely to result in very serious accidents’.
French officials and hospital staff confirmed that migrants are deliberately causing accidents to create traffic tailbacks on the N216 motorway into the ferry port, and the A16 to the Channel Tunnel. They are also putting up barricades.
Quentin Patte, an emergency doctor at Calais Hospital, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Targeting motorists in order to cause accidents is a new tactic. A colleague treated someone recently who was injured when a migrant threw something at their vehicle near the port.’
Another doctor at the hospital revealed asylum-seekers come into the hospital daily after being wounded in vicious knife fights in the camp.
He said: ‘They come in every day with stab wounds. There is particularly a rivalry between the Afghans and the Sudanese. They are given priority because their wounds are so serious.’
A paramedic told our reporters: ‘This is happening all the time now. It’s a war out there.’
Lorry drivers are experiencing soaring violence, threats and intimidation as they pass through the French port, according to locals.
Every night, squads of French riot police are involved in running battles with gangs. The police fire tear gas as they chase them from the edge of the main roads.
Police say they are dealing with around 30 blockades each night.
A team of highway workers toils through the night constantly clearing debris from the motorways around the port and tunnel.
Jean-Marc Puissesseau, president of the port of Calais, said: ‘Migrants are throwing tree trunks, branches and shopping carts at cars on the motorway. It is very dangerous.’
David Sagnard, president of the local branch of France’s national federation of lorry drivers, said: ‘The violence of the migrants has not gone up by a notch, but by ten.
‘Why do we have to risk our lives on the motorway just doing our job, or simply because we’re tourists? It is not acceptable.’