MADRID – At least seven people were killed in Morocco and hundreds were injured in a massive attempt to reach Spanish territory in Melilla early this morning (Friday).
Five of the dead are migrants, as confirmed by the Moroccan Interior Ministry. But the other two are Moroccan police officers, hospital sources said. Furthermore, over 100 police officers were injured in the incident.
Melilla’s government reported Friday morning, according to RTVE.es, that a group of about 500 sub-Saharan migrants “perfectly organised and violently” forced the border crossing at Barrio Chino. Of these, 133 people managed to enter the Spanish city. They are already in the Temporary Centre for Immigrants (CETI) in Melilla. All are male and of age.
On the Spanish side, the mass entry has resulted in at least 49 Civil Guard agents and 57 migrants injured. Three of them were treated in the regional hospital.
This is the first significant border storm in Melilla since relations between Spain and Morocco normalised in April. That was after the change in Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s position on Western Sahara. This reversal did lead to the current crisis between Spain and Algeria.
“Despite the extensive equipment deployed by the Moroccan security forces, in conjunction with the Spanish state security forces, about 1,500 migrants have managed to approach the outskirts of Melilla,” police sources explained. As of 8.40 am, we reported that a group of more than 500 migrants began to enter Melilla by climbing over the roof of the border checkpoint.
Thousands of migrants were arrested before the border
Moroccan authorities arrested 1,000 people before reaching the Melilla border. This is according to information provided to Efe by security sources in the country. Many of those arrested have Sudanese nationality. They came from nearby forests to jointly enter this Spanish city in North Africa.
Moroccan sources explained “a small fraction” of migrants were able to escape the border guards of both countries and hide. Moreover, they expected the storming of the border more than a week ago. That was from the moment when hundreds of sub-Saharan migrants had gathered in the inaccessible mountains in the Bini Buiafrur region, in the Moroccan province of Nador and about 20 kilometres west of Melilla.
RTVE.es reported on Thursday and last Saturday that Moroccan security services had already carried out two prevention interventions. Around 200 police officers were injured in the clashes with the migrants.
Sánchez emphasises “close cooperation” with Morocco
The Spanish Prime Minister thanked the Moroccan security forces and bodies for their cooperation in preventing the entry of the migrants. He also took the opportunity to emphasise the “need to have the best relations and close cooperation” with Morocco in the fight against illegal immigration.