Migrants storm Melilla border fence

2013-11-05 18:49
Moroccans throw stones at a gate at the Beni-Enzar crossing between the Spanish enclave of Melilla and Morocco. (Pedro Armestre, AFP)

Moroccans throw stones at a gate at the Beni-Enzar crossing between the Spanish enclave of Melilla and Morocco. (Pedro Armestre, AFP)

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Madrid - Scores of migrants entered Spain's north African territory of Melilla Tuesday after storming a border fence, which authorities are busy topping with barbed wire to discourage such assaults, a local official said.

"Between 80 and 100" migrants managed to enter Melilla after charging the seven-metre high fence at dawn at a point where it had not yet been reinforced, the local government spokesperson said.

Melilla, which has 80 000 inhabitants, is a key crossroads for migrants who try to slip through to Europe from neighbouring Morocco.

In a bid to ward off regular charges by hundreds of migrants, Spain announced on Monday it had begun installing barbed wire and "anti-climbing" mesh at points along the 11km border.

Barbed wire had been used before in Melilla but was removed from the top of the border fence in 2006 after causing injuries to migrants as they tried to illegally enter the territory.

The Spanish branch of Amnesty International said it was "deeply worried" over the installation of barbed wire on the border fence.

"The response of the Spanish government to the migratory pressure is moving away from the respect of the rights of people who try to enter our country and is a serious step backwards," it said in a statement.

About 3 000 migrants tried to scale the border fence between 1 January and 17 September, compared to 1 610 during the same period last year, according to Spanish interior ministry figures.

Melilla and Ceuta, another Spanish territory on the north African coast, have the European Union's only land borders with Africa.

Read more on:    amnesty international  |  spain  |  north africa

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