At least two Africans died and 50 more were wounded early Thursday as they and hundreds of others scaled barriers in a coordinated effort to enter the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on Morocco's northern coast, a senior Spanish official said.
The two people from sub-Saharan Africa died either from wounds suffered while scaling the fence topped with barbed wire, or from blows that could have come from trampling and stampeding, Jeronimo Nieto, the central government's chief delegate in Ceuta, said in an interview with Spain's leading SER Radio, which was monitored by CNN.
Nieto said he could not confirm reports that there may have been more deaths by some of the would-be immigrants who were turned back by Spanish forces and had to remain on Moroccan soil on the other side of the fence. It was estimated that hundreds were involved in Thursday's immigration attempt, reports CNN.
According to Reuters, nearly 1,000 migrants tried to scramble over the Moroccan border into Ceuta's sister enclave of Melilla over the previous two nights. Thursday's was the first major assault on Ceuta.
Some 300 migrants have succeeded in getting into Melilla this week and have been detained by Spanish authorities.
Spain is in the process of reinforcing the fence surrounding Melilla in a bid to keep out would-be migrants, many of whom have travelled for months in the hope of entering Europe.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and his Moroccan counterpart Driss Jettou were due to address the issue at a meeting in Seville later on Thursday.
Photo: BBC P.T.
Rescuers found the pilot of one of the two Su-34 fighters that had collided in midair in the Far East on January 18