World News

African migrants cross border fence into Spanish enclave Ceuta

MADRID (Reuters) - Hundreds of sub-Saharan African migrants forced their way on Friday morning over a barbed-wire fence into Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta, which borders Morocco.

Television footage showed migrants perched on the top of the fence as they tried to get over. Several people were injured after storming the barrier, emergency services said.

Over 800 migrants attempted to cross into Spain with a little over half successful and taken to a temporary migrant detention center to await their legal status in Spain, the government said.

Spain’s two enclaves in Morocco, Ceuta and Melilla, are often used as entry points into Europe for African migrants, who either climb over their border fences or attempt a dangerous swim along the coastline.

Some also try to cross from Morocco into mainland southern Spain by boat, despite tighter controls in recent years by the two countries which has diminished the number of those attempting this route.

Four African migrants drowned and 34 were rescued on Wednesday off the coast of Morocco when their boat sank, though it was unclear whether they were heading to Spain or to one of the two Spanish North African enclaves.

Libya has become a more common departure point for African migrants, most from sub-Saharan countries, who attempt the crossing to Italy.

An estimated 4,663 migrants have died in the Mediterranean this year, while a record number of migrants - 171,299 as of Nov. 28 - have reached Italy by boat from North Africa in 2016.

Reporting by Sarah White, Maria Vega and Amanda Calvo; Editing by Julien Toyer and Ralph Boulton