In Melilla, numerous more migrants were discovered piled up on the ground and at least 18 others were found dead. On Friday, a total of 133 migrants crossed the border between Melilla and the Moroccan city of Nador.
In what Moroccan officials dubbed a “stampede” of individuals pushing across Morocco’s border barrier with the Spanish North African enclave of Melilla on Friday, 18 Africans trying to enter Spain were slain, while both police and numerous migrants suffered injuries.
For the first time since Spain and Morocco normalized diplomatic ties last month, 133 migrants crossed the border between the Moroccan city of Nador and Melilla on Friday.
Around 2,000 people, according to a representative for the Spanish government’s office in Melilla, tried to pass, but many were stopped by Moroccan and Spanish Civil Guard officers on each side of the border barrier.
The deaths occurred when people attempted to scale the iron fence, according to a statement from Morocco’s Interior Ministry.
It stated that five migrants were murdered, 76 were hurt, and 140 Moroccan security personnel were hurt.
The official news service of Morocco, MAP, said that thirteen of the injured migrants eventually passed away in the hospital, bringing the total number of fatalities to 18.
authorities from the area were cited. Although the number could quickly be verified, the Moroccan Human Rights Association reported 27 deaths.
According to Spanish authorities, 49 Civil Guards apparently suffered minor injuries. Some migrants threw rocks at four police vehicles, causing damage.
Those who managed to cross went to a nearby immigration center where authorities assessed their situation.
People fleeing poverty and violence periodically attempt mass migration to reach Melilla and Ceuta, the other Spanish colony on the North African coast, as a stepping stone to continental Europe.
Normally, Spain Looks to Morocco to Dissuade Migrants from Approaching the Border
More than 3,500 people attempted to climb the six-meter (20-foot) fence surrounding Melilla over two days at the beginning of March, but only about 1,000 succeeded, according to Spanish authorities.
The crossings on Friday were the first since March when Spain and Morocco’s relations improved following a year-long dispute over Western Sahara, a former Spanish province that Morocco acquired in 1976.
Thousands of migrants were able to enter Spain last year as Morocco relaxed its security measures surrounding Ceuta.
The action was perceived as punishment for Spain allowing the head of the Western Sahara pro-independence movement to receive COVID-19 treatment at a Spanish hospital.
After Spain approved Morocco’s plan to give Western Sahara more autonomy, where activists are pushing for full independence, tensions between the two nations started to ease earlier this year.