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Melilla: Hundreds of migrants force their way across border to Spanish enclave

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Migrants rest at a holding centre in Melilla after climbing the border fence.
Migrants rest at a holding centre in Melilla after climbing the border fence.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Javier Bernardo   -  

A record number of migrants have crossed the fences separating the Spanish enclave of Melilla from Morocco, authorities said.

Officials said around 2,500 attempted to enter the enclave in "broad daylight" on Wednesday -- the largest-ever attempt on record.

A total of 491 people successfully made the crossing, while dozens were injured in clashes, including several Spanish Civil Guard officers.

On Thursday, hundreds more migrants tried for a second day to climb over the fences to Melilla.

The Spanish government’s delegation said 1,200 migrants attempted to scale the 6-metre-high perimeter fence and that around 350 succeeded.

Spanish officials also said that some migrants used "great violence" to "overwhelm the Moroccan security forces who were trying to prevent them from reaching the fence".

Some people allegedly used "hooks and sticks" or "threw stones" at border authorities before climbing the barrier.

Spanish security forces activated an “anti-intrusion” mechanism early on Thursday in response to the attempted crossings.

Four Civil Guard officers were treated for injuries at a local hospital, government delegate Sabrina Moh said at a news conference.

Melilla’s border security with Morocco will be reinforced with 84 National Police and Civil Guard officers, she added.

NGOs have accused Spain of illegally pushing back three migrants who were found sitting on top of the fence on Wednesday. Authorities didn’t immediately address the allegation.

AP Photo/Javier Bernardo
Moroccan security forces force migrants to lie down after their attempted crossing.AP Photo/Javier Bernardo

The last mass attempt to cross the high border fence to Melilla took place last October when an estimated 700 people tried to reach the Spanish enclave.

Both Melilla and Ceuta are home to thousands of Sub-Saharan migrants who gather in large groups to jump the border, before reaching mainland Spain and other parts of continental Europe.

The temporary migrant centre in Melilla has the capacity to host just 480 people.

In the whole of 2021, a total of 1,092 migrants managed to enter Melilla -- a 23% decrease compared to 2020 -- according to the Spanish Interior Ministry.