Spain sends riot police to African borders

Spain is planning to send 100 riot police to the border between its enclave of Melilla in North Africa after several recent massive assaults on the frontier by would-be immigrants.

Spain sends riot police to African borders
A young man at the Centre for Temporary Stay of Immigrants (CETI) on the north African Spanish enclave of Melilla on Wednesday. Photo: Blasco Avellaneda/AFP

The Spanish interior ministry will send also send an additional 20 Civil Guard officers to man the triple-layer fence separating Melilla and Morocco.

The decision to reinforce the border comes a day after some 500 sub-Saharan Africans illegally entered the Spanish city — the latest in a series of such crossings.

In all of 2013, 1074 would-be migrants scaled the fences at Melilla, according to official figures. That figure is already more than 1,600 in 2014.

"We can't go on like this," Melilla President Juan José Imbroda was quoting as saying on Tuesday by Spain's El Mundo newspaper.

He called for drastic action for a problem that was worsening by the day.

Melilla forms one of Europe's only two land borders with Africa, along with another Spanish territory, Ceuta, to the west.

The two cities sit across the Mediterranean from mainland Spain, surrounded by Moroccan territory, and are a key entry point for migrants seeking a better life in Europe.

On February 6th about 15 migrants drowned in Moroccan waters while trying to swim to Ceuta from a nearby beach.

Rights groups and witnesses accused Spanish security forces of firing rubber bullets at the migrants in the water.

The government admitted using rubber bullets but denied its forces had targeted the migrants directly.

It later banned civil guards policing the border from using rubber bullets to repel migrants. 

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