Moroccan security forces stopped some 150 sub-Saharan African migrants from crossing early on April 13th into Spain’s Ceuta enclave, the interior ministry said.
The operation resulted in 70 arrests of migrants while 14 members of the Moroccan security forces and six migrants were injured and transferred to hospital, the ministry said in a statement.
Morocco has two crossing points into Spanish enclaves. The second one – Melilla – made international headlines in June 2022 when 1000 migrants attempted to escape into Spain resulting in 37 deaths from Police attacking them. International rights groups condemned Morocco later in January 2023 for imprisoning 13 while waving any prosecutions against police officers who had actually killed the 37.
“Some migrants were armed with sticks, stones and bladed weapons,” it said.
Local authorities in Ceuta said no migrant had managed to cross into Spanish territory. Land, sea and air police had been deployed but didn’t have to intervene, a statement said.
The border was temporarily closed to vehicles crossing into and out of Ceuta as a precaution but it was reopened later on the morning of April 13th , a source close to the authorities said.
Mohammed Ben Aisa, a migrant rights activist, said migrants usually pick days such as during the fasting month of Ramadan, religious feasts, or when security forces swap positions to attempt crossings, thinking security would be less tight during these times.
In June 2022, Moroccan authorities said 23 migrants died in a mass attempted storming of the border around Melilla, another Spanish enclave in northern Morocco. Some human rights activists have said the death toll was higher.
Arrivals from Morocco into Spain dropped last year after the two countries patched up a separate diplomatic feud, since when they have increased cooperation to reduce migration and Morocco has taken more active measures to prevent migrants trying to cross into Spain or Spanish enclaves.