Officials said the deaths occurred during an attempted mass crossing into the Spanish enclave in North Africa by about 2,000 migrants.
Moroccan authorities said 18 migrants were killed and dozens of migrants and police officers were injured in a “stampede” of people trying to cross into the Spanish enclave of Melilla in North Africa.
About 2,000 people tried to enter the North African city on Friday morning and during two hours of violent skirmishes, about 130 people managed to breach the border between Morocco and the Spanish enclave, a spokesman for the Spanish government office in Melilla said.
The Moroccan Interior Ministry said in a statement that the victims occurred when refugees and migrants tried to climb the iron border fence separating the two areas. The ministry said five migrants were killed, 76 wounded, and 140 Moroccan security officers wounded.
Thirteen injured migrants later died in hospital, raising the death toll to 18, according to the official Moroccan News Agency, which quoted local authorities. The Moroccan Association for Human Rights reported 27 dead, but this number can be confirmed immediately.
Spanish officials said 49 members of the Civil Guard were slightly injured. Four police cars were damaged by stones thrown by some migrants.
Pictures in Spanish media showed exhausted refugees and migrants lying on the sidewalk in Melilla, some with blood and torn clothes. Those who succeeded in crossing went to a local immigrant center, where authorities were assessing their conditions.
The incident at the border crossing was the first since diplomatic relations between Morocco and Spain were repaired in March.
“Great Sub-Saharan Collection [Africans] The delegation of the Spanish government in the region said in a previous statement: … he penetrated the access gate of the Barrio Chino border checkpoint and entered Melilla by jumping over the roof of the checkpoint.
“every one of them [are] Men and adults it seems. The migrants arrived at the crossing around 6:40 am local time (04:40 GMT) and the crossing took place at 8:40 am (06:40 GMT).
Melilla and Ceuta, another small Spanish enclave in North Africa, have the European Union’s only land border with Africa, making them a magnet for migrants.
In a separate statement, the Spanish delegation said Morocco had deployed a “significant” number of troops in an effort to push back the crowd at the border and “actively cooperate” with Spanish security forces.
In March of this year, Spain ended a year-long diplomatic crisis by backing Morocco’s plan for autonomy for Western Sahara, retreating to its decades-long neutral stance.
Then Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez visited Rabat, and the two governments hailed a “new phase” in relations.
The spat began when Madrid allowed Ibrahim Ghali, the leader of the pro-independence Polisario Front in Western Sahara, to be treated for COVID-19 in a Spanish hospital in April 2021.
A month later, some 10,000 migrants streamed across the Moroccan border into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta while Moroccan border guards looked the other way, in what Rabat was widely seen as a punitive gesture.
Rabat calls for Western Sahara to have an independent status under Moroccan sovereignty, but the Polisario Front in Western Sahara wants a UN-supervised referendum for self-determination as agreed in the 1991 cease-fire agreement.
In the days before Morocco and Spain ended their diplomatic crisis, there were several attempts at a mass transit of migrants in Melilla, including one involving 2,500 people, the largest such attempt ever.
Government figures showed that Spain’s restoration of relations with Morocco meant a drop in arrivals and that the number of migrants arriving in the Canary Islands in April was 70 percent less than in February.
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