More than a dozen migrants have been killed in clashes with police after trying to cross Morocco’s border with Spain in the Melilla enclave.
About 500 people reached the iron fence separating Nador and the autonomous Spanish city, with 133 people managing to breach it after being pried open by bolt cutters, authorities said.
Five migrants were killed on the spot, while another 13 injured later died in hospital.
Another 57 were injured, while dozens of police officers on either side of the fence were also injured – with Morocco’s Interior Ministry saying 140 of its officers were injured and Spanish officials claiming 49 of its guards were injured.
Those who managed to cross the border were taken to a local migrant center for treatment.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez expressed “gratitude for the cooperation shown by Morocco” and stressed that it “shows the need to maintain the best relations with the country”.
“We oppose any violent attack on the Melilla fence, as we saw today, by mafias trafficking in people,” he added.
The incident marks the first mass crossing to Melilla since Spain and Morocco repaired diplomatic ties last month after a year-long dispute over Western Sahara – a former Spanish colony annexed by Morocco in 1976.
Moroccan authorities halted their efforts at the Melilla border, resulting in about 900 migrants entering Spanish territory in March.
The incident led to a notable move from Spain, which acknowledged Morocco’s call for greater autonomy over Western Sahara – where it aspires to full independence – as “the most realistic and credible” solution to ending the historic dispute.
Spain is hosting the upcoming NATO summit next week and has called for putting the security threats emanating from North Africa on the agenda.
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https://metro.co.uk/2022/06/25/18-dead-after-police-clash-with-migrants-at-spanish-enclave-border-16889973/ 18 dead after police clash with migrants at border with Spanish enclave