Some 200 migrants managed to cross the Spanish border, catching the Moroccan and Spanish security forces by surprise. Photo: EPA
Some 200 migrants managed to cross the Spanish border, catching the Moroccan and Spanish security forces by surprise. Photo: EPA

A reported 1,000 sub-Saharan migrants on Tuesday morning tried to storm the border fence between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, armed with sticks and stones. The day before, some 300 migrants had stormed the border posting using a new strategy: running together through the border crossing without attempting to climb the fence.


A reported 1,000 sub-Saharan migrants on Tuesday morning tried to storm the border fence between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, armed with sticks and stones, but were pushed back by police officers from both countries, Spain's Efe news agency reports. At least three Spanish officers and 10 Moroccans were injured. 

The fresh attempt to storm the double barrier surrounding the Spanish enclave took place at around 6 am. Security forces from both countries were on high alert after yesterday some 187 sub-Saharan migrants were able to push their way through the Tarajal crossing by running in a compact group. One Spanish officer was wounded. According to Ceuta Guardia Civil chiefs, this morning's attempt was violent with migrants brandishing sticks, hand-made spears, and sharp objects and throwing stones at the officers.

Two incidents in two days

Only Monday, border guards at the crossing had been taken by surprise as 300 migrants had stormed the border posting. The head of the emergency area of the Red Cross in Ceuta, Clement Nunez, told Spanish national radio RNE that 186 sub-Saharan migrants were able to cross into Spanish territory and four others were being treated in hospital for injuries. A police officer was also being treated for a broken femur. 

Police, 'migrants changing strategy to cross border' 

The migrants who entered Ceuta walked to the local temporary hosting center (Ceti) three kilometers from the border where they were assisted and treated by a Red Cross team. Ceti already hosts 600 foreigners, including 75 who have reached the Spanish enclave in the last few days. Border police stressed the change in strategy of migrants attempting to reach the enclave. The migrants did not attempt to force or cross the double protection barrier at the border but started running and walking in a tight group one kilometer from the Tarajal border crossing until the area of Juan XXIII to reach the crossing en masse, surprising Moroccan and Spanish border police. 

Hundreds hiding in the woods, waiting for right moment to cross 

The western Mediterranean migrant route through Morocco's Spanish enclaves has been under strong pressure over the past few weeks. At the end of July, over 10,751 people crossed into Spain illegally by sea or land, including 3,204 through Ceuta and Melilla, according to interior ministry data. Since the start of the year, 2,266 attempts were registered to cross the border fence of Ceuta, where a total of 3,472 attempts to storm the fence were registered in 2016. Hundreds of migrants of sub-Saharan origin are waiting in Moroccan woods in the mountains close to Ceuta and Melilla for the right moment to cross into European territory. 

At least 1,500 people are currently camping on the Gurugù mountain, in tent camps that were previously cleared by security officers in the past months, according to local police estimates. On August 1, 600 migrants stormed the Ceuta border and 75 were able to cross into the Spanish enclave. 


***This article was updated on August 8, 2017
 

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