Hundreds of migrants armed with sticks and homemade flamethrowers broke through the border fence in Ceuta, according to the Spanish Civil Guard. Over 100 migrants and 15 border agents were injured in the fight.
“Over 700 sub-Saharans” attempted to storm the border fence, the Civil Guard said in a statement, adding that “at least 602” of them managed to cross the barriers. Volunteers and the local branch of the Red Cross said that 132 migrants sustained injuries, while 11 had to be taken to a local hospital.
Some of them were cut with barbed wire while trying to climb the border fence, and others sustained broken bones. The scuffles also led to 15 border agents receiving injuries. Some agents were burnt as the migrants attacked them with homemade flamethrowers while trying to avoid arrest.
Migrants were also reportedly fighting off the border agents with sticks, quicklime and sprays containing fouls odor. The migrants appeared over the fence and "all of a sudden,", some of them were pelting police with "plastic containers full of excrements and quicklime... stones and sticks", the Civil Guard said.
Spanish media cited police who say the recent incident is one of “the most violent and numerous entries” of asylum seekers in recent months.
Ceuta is one of two Spanish territories in North Africa, along with Melilla. The city is a hub for African migrants trying to reach Europe.Over 19,000 people have landed on in Spain in 2018 so far, according to the data from the International Organization for Migration.
Back in June, newly appointed Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska announced his desire to remove the fence. “I’m going to do everything possible to see that these razor wire fences at Ceuta and Melilla are removed,” he said.
Responding to the Thursday incident in Ceuta, the Guardia Civil's AEGC union called upon the Spanish authorities to clarify its “plan B” to maintain security if the wire was removed.
“We're one of the main entry points from the third world into Europe and none of those in charge at the interior ministry have wanted to see or resolve the problems this is causing,” it said.
According to the police union, migrants breaking through the fence “demonstrated that these problems are going to worsen if more Guardia Civil, and anti-riot and protection equipment, fail to arrive when the barbed wire is removed.”
Asylum seekers have repeatedly tried to force their way into the Spanish exclave by storming a wired border fence. The attempted incursions often resulted in injures both among asylum seekers and police officers. In January 2017, crowds of migrants approached the 6-meter-high barbed wire border fence which police called a “well organized and violent” attempt. In February 2017, hundreds successfully crossed into Ceuta, kissing the ground and shouting “Viva Espana!”