For the first time in nearly a decade, Spain has sent in soldiers to the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta to try to quell a wave of illegal immigration. Nearly 500 soldiers have been mobilised. It follows dramatic events in Ceuta on Wednesday night when five people were killed as the police launched an offensive against immigrants trying to enter the enclave. It is the first time Ceuta was the scene of such a large-scale wave of illegal immigration. Several hundred people tried to climb the barriers separating Morocco from the Spanish town. A violent confrontation with Spanish police ensued.
More than 200 people were arrested, and nearly a hundred were injured. There were reportedly two police officers and three immigrants among the dead, including a baby from Ivory Coast. The assault on Ceuta came a day after a similar one on Melilla which is frequently the scene of such events. Illegal immigration is one of the core subjects being discussed at a summit between Spain and Morocco in Seville, where Spanish leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has been meeting his Moroccan counterpart Driss Jettou. It is hoped the summit will yield new cooperation measures between the two countries. Spain is also set to approve an action plan on Friday to deal with Melilla and Ceuta’s overpopulated emergency refugee centres.