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Migrants perched on fence after bid to enter Spain

April 3, 2014
Associated Press

MELILLA, Spain (AP) — Spanish and Moroccan police thwarted a fresh attempt Thursday by dozens of African migrants to scale border fences and enter the Spanish enclave of Melilla. Some 25 migrants, many with bloody bare feet, clung to the tops of fences for hours.

The attempt is the latest in a recent wave of African migrants trying to breach this unusual border between northern Morocco and the enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta. Success is rare, but the promise is so great — the potential of a better life in Spain or elsewhere in borderless Europe — that impoverished migrants from around Africa keep taking the risk.

In Thursday's assault, several dozen migrants tried to scale the fences. It was not immediately clear how many made it across.

Several were turned back, and some 25 migrants remained atop the fences hours after the attempted crossing began at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT) Thursday. Spanish police stood guard nearby.

Some shouted "Freedom!" and "Victory!" and called for the Red Cross to help them from being ordered to stay in Morocco.

Two migrants clung to the top of a lamp post by the fences. After hours of waiting, one buried his head in his hands. Others grimly held on to the fence, their bare feet visibly bloodied by the crossover attempt.

One migrant climbed down the ladder that had been propped up against the fence since the start of the standoff. Spanish riot police gave him water then led him to Moroccan police, who took him into a car and drove him away.

Morocco and Spain have stepped up border vigilance since Feb. 6, when 15 migrants drowned trying to enter Spain's other north African coastal enclave, Ceuta.



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