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Slovaks to send up to 500 soldiers to help control migrants crossing from Hungary

Slovakia's newly appointed members of the government pose for a group photo in Bratislava

(Reuters) -Slovakia will assign up to 500 soldiers to help police control an increasing flow of migrants coming across the border from Hungary, Prime Minister Ludovit Odor said on Wednesday.

Slovakia has seen a surge in the number of migrants, mostly from Syria, who have crossed into the European Union on the Hungarian-Serbian border and are headed to richer countries, mainly Germany.

The rise in migrants before colder autumn and winter months coincides with a planned Sept. 30 election in Slovakia and is grabbing politicians' attention, while small towns on the southern border are seeing more and more refugees rest or sleep over in their parks and sports grounds.

Odor said it was impossible to seal the border with Hungary but the troops would help police register the migrants and also patrol towns in the border area.

"I would like to assure citizens that we are still talking about transit migration," Odor said after a government meeting.

The Interior Ministry said on Tuesday the number of detained illegal migrants has soared by ninefold, to more than 27,000 so far this year.

The government also proposed ending the practice of issuing registration forms to migrants, which other countries on the Balkan route do not do and which the government said is a pull factor for migrants, though nearly all continue their journey to Western Europe.

The government will also improve food supplies and hygiene at venues where migrants wait for registration, officials said on Wednesday, after complaints at places such as a former sawmill in the southern town of Velky Krtis where around 750 migrants were staying on Wednesday morning.

The government said it has started to take people by buses to other places to spread the burden on police departments and speed up the registration process.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka in Prague; editing by Nick Macfie)