Moroccan troops, attempting to prevent immigrants scaling a razor-wire border fence into Spain's African enclave of Melilla, killed six Africans on Wednesday night, a local government official said on Thursday.
It is the second time in a week migrants have died trying to get into the Spanish outposts of Ceuta and Melilla. Hundreds of Africans have stormed the borders in recent weeks and Spain and Morocco have responded by sending troops to the frontier.
Searching for a way to stem the influx, Spain announced it would send back to Morocco 70 of those who got over the fences in recent days after months travelling through Africa in the hope of reaching Europe.
Reasons given for the increase in the border assaults range from famine in West Africa where most of the migrants come from to Spain's decision earlier this year to give papers to illegal immigrants.
Another reason was the decision by Spain to double the height of the fence to 6 metres (yards).
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero blamed the famine for the rise in migrants attempting to reach the European Union. He said he would ask EU leaders at their next summit to give more help to Morocco to combat immigration.
Just one man made it across, Spanish police said, reports Reuters
Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said most of the 70 people, to leave by boat, were from Mali.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero blamed poverty and famine for the increase of illegal influx and said Madrid would ask EU leaders at their next summit to increase economic cooperation with Africa to reduce poverty and give more help to Morocco to combat illegal immigration.
He said nearly 1,000 Africans were waiting to enter the Spanish territory via Ceuta.
According to the Spanish police, some 10,000 people have tried to cross the border fencing since early this year.
Under Spanish law, illegal immigrants will be given at least 15 days to sue before repatriation once they manage to enter the Spanish territory.
The Spanish government said Tuesday it will place a third border checkpoint in Melilla to prevent the crossing of illegal aliens, informs Peoples Daily Online.
Photo: the AP P.T.