Bulgarian authorities say they are constructing a fence on a 30-kilometer (19-mile) stretch of the country's 274-kilometer (171-mile) border with Turkey in an effort to stop illegal immigration.

Defense Minister Angel Naydenov said Thursday that the 3-meter-high (10-foot-) fence is expected to be ready by February. It will run mainly through forested, hilly areas where visibility for border patrols is limited.

Bulgarian authorities have rejected accusations the fence was aimed at keeping out refugees from Syria and other war-ravaged countries seeking to get into the EU. The country has faced an influx of migrants that far outnumbers its capacity.

During the Cold War, Bulgaria's barbed-wire borders prevented its citizens from fleeing to the West, but after the country joined NATO in 2004 all fences were removed.