Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Morocco has admitted its border guards shot dead four African migrants trying to enter the Spanish enclave of Melilla earlier this month

Pascale Harter:

The incident sparked international criticism of how Spain and Morocco deal with immigrants trying to enter Europe.

Six people were killed on 6 October in a mass raid on the double razor-wired fence which separates the Spanish territory of Melilla from Morocco.

An inquiry by the Spanish civil guard has cleared its troops of involvement.

Now a report released by the Moroccan interior ministry says a spray of gunfire from Moroccan security forces killed four of the migrants, believed to be from West Africa.

The other two, says the report, died from multiple wounds.

It is not clear from the report whether they were also shot or died in a stampede which followed.

Moroccan Foreign Minister Mohammed Ben Aissa, described the incident as "regrettable".

The Moroccan government continues to deny, however, that it has pursued a policy of dumping sub-Saharan Africans in the desert without food or water in an attempt to deal with unprecedented waves of illegal immigration across its soil this month.

However, Medecins Sans Frontieres and other humanitarian organisations have presented evidence to the contrary.

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