Following a violent two-hour confrontation between migrants and border guards that resulted in numerous injuries, Morocco reported that 18 migrants died trying to enter Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla on Friday.
A high fence enclosing the enclave was breached by about 2,000 refugees. More than 100 migrants managed to pass from Morocco into Melilla as a result, according to Moroccan and Spanish police, which led to fights with security personnel.
Initial reports from Morocco’s Interior Ministry stated that 76 migrants were hurt and that five migrants had perished in the border raid, some of whom had fallen over the barrier around Melilla and others in a throng. Later, another 13 deaths were reported.
It further stated that 140 members of the Moroccan security forces had been hurt, five of them critically.
The Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, both on the northern coast of Africa, have drawn primarily sub-Saharan migrants seeking entry into Europe over the previous ten years.
In the face of opposition from Moroccan security personnel, the attempt on Friday got underway at 6:40 a.m.
According to a statement from the Madrid government’s representative body there, more than 500 migrants started crossing into Melilla at around 8:40 a.m. after using a bolt cutter to get through a fence at a border checkpoint.
The majority were pushed back, but 130 men made it to the enclave and were being processed at its immigration receiving centre, it claimed.