Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Saturday described a deadly migrant rush in the enclave of Melilla bordering Morocco as “an attack on the territorial integrity” of Spain which he blamed on “mafias that traffic in human beings”.
Dramatic scenes on Friday saw some 2,000 migrants storm border fences separating Morocco from the Spanish enclave Melilla, leading to at least 18 deaths, according to the latest Moroccan official toll.
“If anyone is responsible for everything that happened at the border, it is the mafias that traffic in human beings,” he told a press conference.
Melilla, along with fellow Spanish enclave Ceuta, are the European Union’s only two borders with the African continent and both towns have long been magnets for migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the bloc.
Sanchez condemned what he termed “a violent and organised assault organised by mafia who traffic human beings to a town situated on Spanish soil. As a result this is an attack on our territorial integrity.”
He added that “the Moroccan gendarmerie worked in concert with (Spanish) troops and security bodies to push back this so violent assault that we witnessed.”