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Morocco Says 18 Migrants Died During Mass Crossing into Melilla

Morocco Says 18 Migrants Died During Mass Crossing into Melilla

Saturday, 25 June, 2022 - 04:45
Migrants run on Spanish soil after crossing the fences separating the Spanish enclave of Melilla from Morocco in Melilla, Spain, June 24, 2022. AP

Morocco said 18 migrants died trying to cross into Spain's North African enclave of Melilla on Friday, after a violent two-hour skirmish between migrants and border officers that also led to scores of injuries.


About 2,000 migrants stormed a high fence that seals off the enclave. This led to clashes with security forces as more than 100 migrants managed to cross from Morocco into Melilla, Moroccan and Spanish authorities said.


Morocco's Interior Ministry initially said five migrants had died in the border raid, some after falling from the fence surrounding Melilla and others in a crush, and that 76 migrants were injured. It later said another 13 had died.


Some 140 Members of Moroccan security forces were also injured, it added, five seriously, though none of them died.


Over the past decade, Melilla and Ceuta, a second Spanish enclave also on Africa's northern coast, have become a magnet for mostly sub-Saharan migrants trying to get into Europe.


Friday's attempt began around 6:40 a.m. in the face of resistance from Moroccan security forces, Reuters reported.


At around 8:40 a.m., more than 500 migrants began to enter Melilla, jumping over the roof of a border checkpoint after cutting through fencing with a bolt cutter, the Madrid government's representative body there said in a statement.


Most were forced back but around 130 men managed to reach the enclave and were being processed at its reception center for immigrants, it added.


Footage posted on social media showed large groups of African youths walking along roads around the border, celebrating entering Melilla and the firing of what appeared to be tear gas by the authorities.


Spanish authorities said the border incursion led to 57 migrants and 49 Spanish police sustaining injuries.


The border of the Spanish enclave and the neighboring Moroccan city of Nador were calm early Saturday, without police deployment, AFP journalists said.


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