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Eighteen Africans seeking to cross into Spain were killed and scores of migrants and police were injured in what Moroccan authorities called a “stampede” of people surging across Morocco’s border fence with the Spanish North African enclave of Melilla on Friday.

According to BBC, at least 23 migrants died while others were hurt. Some of those who died had fallen from the top of a border fence. Several security personnel and migrants were admitted to hospital for following clashes early on Friday. It was the first such attempted mass crossing since Spain and Morocco resumed diplomatic ties in March.

Meanwhile Aljazeera has put the number of casualties at 18. The deaths occurred during attempted mass crossing into Spanish North African enclave by some 2,000 migrants. A spokesperson for the Spanish government’s office in Melilla said about 2,000 people attempted to enter the North African city on Friday morning and during a violent two-hour skirmish about 130 successfully breached the border between Morocco and the Spanish enclave.

Spanish Police arresting illegal migrants trying to jump fence
Spanish Police arresting illegal migrants trying to jump fence

Spanish officials said 49 Civil Guards sustained minor injuries. Four police vehicles were damaged by rocks thrown by some migrants..

Those who succeeded in crossing went to a local migrant center, where authorities were evaluating their circumstances.

People fleeing poverty and violence sometimes make mass attempts to reach Melilla and the other Spanish territory on the North African coast, Ceuta, as a springboard to continental Europe.

Spain normally relies on Morocco to keep migrants away from the border.

Over two days at the beginning of March, more than 3,500 people tried to scale the six-meter (20-foot) barrier that surrounds Melilla and nearly 1,000 made it across, according to Spanish authorities.

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