Moroccan Authorities Thwart Illegal Immigration Attempt to Ceuta

A 19-year-old migrant from Gabon was smuggled across the Morocco Spain border in a case

There have been many such attempts by sub-Saharan Africans living illegally in Morocco, who desperately want to reach Europe.

News of their capture came as a stampede of 1,100 migrants on Sunday stormed the same border, which is lined with a 19-foot-high fence topped with barbed wire.

The Moroccan Interior Ministry said the number of migrants who tried to enter Ceuta totaled 800 and that all of them have been arrested, Reuters reports.

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El Pais reports that Spanish Civil Guard officials' suspicions were aroused by the 22-year-old woman's nervous body language as she pushed her luggage cart at the Tarajal border crossing.

Five Spanish and 50 Moroccan border guards were injured in the mayhem, which included migrants throwing rocks and metal bars to try to break down the fence.

It said those who make such attempts will be brought to justice, which will deliver verdicts ranging from expulsion from Moroccan territory to more severe sentences depending on how serious their acts are.

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In early December more than 400 sub-Saharan African migrants managed to force their way over the Ceuta border fence. Only two were allowed into Ceuta to be taken to hospital while the rest were returned to Morocco, the Spanish government said in a statement. Ten are in critical condition, while one has lost his eye.

Dozens made it to the top of the fence, but Spanish agents sent them directly back to Morocco.

Spain's two enclaves in Morocco, Ceuta and Melilla, are often used as entry points into Europe for African migrants, who either climb over their border fences or try to swim along the coast. Few are successful. Human rights groups have criticized Spain in the past for returning migrants without offering them the chance to apply for asylum.

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The International Organization for Migration said there were almost 5,000 deaths in the Mediterranean in 2016, making it the deadliest year ever for migrants.


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