Migrants piled up by Moroccan border fence surrounded by riot police

Migrants are piled up by a border fence surrounded by riot police in shocking scenes after more than 2,000 stormed fence to break into Spanish enclave bordering Morocco, killing 23

  • Dozens of migrants piled up at a border fence in the province of Nador, Morocco
  • Human rights groups say some died after being left with no medical treatment
  • It comes after 2,000 migrants tried to storm into the Spanish enclave of Mililla

Shocking video footage has been released showing migrants piled up on the floor surrounded by police in riot gear at a Moroccan border fence after an attempted mass crossing into a Spanish enclave left 23 people dead. 

Moroccan authorities said 2,000 migrants tried to burst into Mililla, a Spanish territory in North Africa which is the one of the only EU land borders on the continent, on Friday.

Authorities said some people trying to cross died in the crush, with others were seriously hurt as they fell while trying to scale fences at the border. 

Around 100 made it across the frontier, with the Spanish Government saying around 140 Spanish police officers were injured, as were 76 migrants.

Now video released by the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) shows what appears to be dozens of migrants, many motionless and apparently lifeless, piled up at the Barrio Chino Border Checkpoint.

Omar Naji, local head of the AMDH said those in the pile had been left there for hours without medical treatment, leading to a higher death toll – which it claims is 29, higher than the total of 23 given by Moroccan authorities.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called the attempt to storm the border ‘an attack on the territorial integrity of our country’, and blamed it on people traffickers. 

Video shows dozens of African migrants lying on the floor and surrounding by Moroccan police at the Barrio Chino Border Checkpoint

Migrants climb the fences separating the Spanish enclave of Melilla from Morocco in Melilla, Spain, on Friday

Morocco deployed a ‘large’ amount of forces to try to repel the assault on the border, who ‘cooperated actively’ with Spain’s security forces, the delegation said

Some 2,000 migrants made their way to the border at dawn and over 500 managed to enter the border control area after cutting a fence with shears, the Spanish government’s local delegation said

However, Melilla regional president Eduardo de Castro said the images were difficult to explain and accused Moroccan security forces of a disproportionate response.

A Moroccan official said security personnel had not used undue force.

One AMDH video showed dozens of African migrants piled together, many motionless and a few making feeble movements as Moroccan officers in riot gear looked on.

The same clip showed security forces pulling two bleeding and dazed-looking migrants past those lying on the ground. Another showed a Moroccan security officer striking a person who lay prone.

The raid was the first attempted from Morocco into one of Spain’s two North African enclaves since the countries agreed this year to bolster cooperation on border control.

That deal, which ended months of frosty relations, came after Spain backed Morocco’s stance over Western Sahara, a disputed territory that Rabat says is its own, but where an independence movement is fighting for a separate state.

There are fears that drought in Africa and surging food prices – even before the war made shipping Ukrainian grain to Somalia, Egypt and other developing nations impossible – could drive up the number of migrants fleeing to Europe.

Friday’s incident followed days of rising tension in the area around Melilla, according to Ousmane Ba, a Senegalese migrant in nearby Nador who runs a community group to help other migrants.

Ba, who neither took part in Friday’s incident nor witnessed it, said migrants living nearby had clashed several times with Moroccan security forces while trying to cross the fence earlier this week.

A migrant is detained by police officers on Spanish soil after crossing the fences separating the Spanish enclave of Melilla from Morocco in Melilla

A police officer is seen leaning over after migrants stormed the fence and entered Melilla on Friday

A migrant runs on Spanish soil after crossing the fences separating the Spanish enclave of Melilla from Morocco

Thousands of migrants can be seen facing a smaller group of border guards after they crossed the fence separating Melilla from Morocco

Melilla and Ceuta, Spain’s other tiny North African enclave, have the European Union’s only land borders with Africa, making them a magnet for migrants

Many of them are living rough in countryside nearby and were desperate, he said. ‘I have never seen migrants attacking this violently. We deplore the deaths near the fence,’ he said.

A Spanish police source said the migrants who stormed the fence had used sticks, knives and acid against security forces and had changed tactics to try crossing at one perceived weak spot en masse, rather than in separate attempts along the fence.

Images posted on Twitter by Spain’s Civil Guard union – whose veracity Reuters was unable to verify – showed a large column of mostly young male migrants streaming through streets near the border.

Some appeared to be carrying sticks and throwing projectiles as puffs of smoke marked the air around them.

Video showed the migrants cheering and raising their arms in celebration as they ran through the streets of Melilla after storming the fence. 

At least 130 migrants managed to enter Melilla, the Spanish government’s local delegation said

A group of 2,000 migrants stormed the border fence at 8:40 am Friday and a ‘significant number’ managed to get in

Video showed the migrants – the vast majority of them being men – cheering and raising their arms in celebration as they ran through the streets of Melilla after storming the fence

Footage posted on the Facebook page of Segnan Live, a local TV station, showed migrants grappling at a small section of border fence in a large group as sirens sounded nearby and tear gas canisters released plumes of smoke.

An image of the aftermath published by AMDH showed a large concentration of people lying at what appeared to be a frontier gate, in an enclosed corner where two high metal fences met, with ambulances standing nearby.

The AMDH and Spanish rights groups issued a statement calling for formal investigations into the disaster and for authorities to not bury those killed until afterwards.

‘This is the most serious incident (on the border between Spain and Morocco) since 2014 when 15 people died,’ said Esteban Beltran, director of Amnesty International in Spain.

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