Africans Storm Spanish Enclave in Morocco | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 22.06.2008
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Africans Storm Spanish Enclave in Morocco

Up to 70 African would-be immigrants to Europe on Sunday tried to push through a border post of the Spanish enclave of Melilla in Morocco, but most of them were repulsed, Spanish authorities said.

would-be immigrants to Europe from Africa

The Spanish enclave of Melilla is a destination for many would-be immigrants from Africa

The Africans were seeking to start news lives in Europe and tried to force their way past border guards on the North African coast on Sunday.

"Between 60 and 70 people from sub-Saharan Africa tried to force their way into Melilla at dawn through the Beni-Enzar border post," the local Melilla authorities said in a statement.

"The majority of them were pushed back by security forces," it said, adding that "the situation is normal on the border."

But several border guards suffered injuries, the statement said.

Spanish national radio said many among the illegal border crossers were armed with sticks and threw stones at the men manning the frontier.

Spain has toughened its stance on migration and now says all entering the country illegally will be deported. In 2005, the government granted amnesty to about 600,000 people.

Increasing flow of illegal immigrants

Spanish enclave of Melilla

The Spanish enclave of Melilla is heavily guarded

It was the first major attack on Melilla by Africans seeking to migrate to Europe since July 2006, when one of them was killed in the attempt.

Moroccan authorities quoted by the MAP news agency said some 58 illegal migrants armed with sticks and stones had stormed the border post. They said 30 were arrested by the Moroccan authorities while the other 28 managed to get through before being stopped by the Spanish.

In 2005, 14 would-be immigrants were killed, some of them by bullets fired by Spanish or Moroccan forces, as they tried to climb over the fences around Melilla and also Ceuta, the other Spanish enclave in north Africa.

Sunday's incident came amid reports of a rising flow of illegal African immigrants to Spain, especially through Spain's Canary islands off the west African coast.

Spain's El Pais newspaper said Sunday that the number of illegals arriving in the Canaries would soon swell further as the western African nation of Mauritania recently lifted a ban on fishing.

The fishing boats are used by clandestine immigrants to travel to the Canary Islands.

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