Eighteen killed as throng of migrants storms Spain’s Melilla border from Morocco.
About 2,000 migrants approached Melilla at dawn on Friday and more than 500 managed to enter a border control area after cutting a fence with shears, the Spanish government’s local delegation said in a statement.
Moroccan officials said late on Friday that 13 migrants had died of their injuries sustained in the incursion, in addition to five who were confirmed dead earlier in the day.
“Some fell from the top of the barrier” separating the two sides, a Moroccan official said, adding that 140 security personnel and 76 migrants were injured during the attempt to cross.
Morocco had deployed a “large” number of forces to try to repel the assault on the border and they “cooperated actively” with Spain’s security forces, it said earlier in a statement.
Speaking in Brussels, the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, condemned the “violent assault”, which he blamed on “mafias who traffic in human beings”.
Melilla and Ceuta, Spain’s other tiny North African enclave, have the European Union’s only land borders with Africa, making them a magnet for migrants.
On Thursday night migrants and security forces “clashed” on the Moroccan side of the border, Omar Naji of Moroccan rights group AMDH said. Several of them were hospitalised in Nador, he added.
In March this year, Spain ended a year-long diplomatic crisis by backing Morocco’s autonomy plan for Western Sahara, going back on its decades-long stance of neutrality.
The row began when Madrid allowed Brahim Ghali, leader of Western Sahara’s pro-independence Polisario Front, to be treated for Covid-19 in a Spanish hospital in April 2021.
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