More than 1,000 migrants storm border at Spain's Ceuta enclave

50 border guards injured in attempt to rush the border fence

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The Independent Online

Dozens of border guards have been injured as more than 1,000 African migrants attempted to storm the fence guarding the small Spanish enclave of Ceuta on the Moroccan coastline. 

A regional spokesman said 50 Moroccan and five Spanish guards had been injured when the migrants, who are believed to have been staying illegally in Morocco, attempted to force their way in the city – which, along with Melilla, is one of two remaining Spanish-controlled territories on the African mainland. 

The spokesman said two people managed to climb over the fence and reach Spanish soil. He said both were injured scaling the 20ft fence and were taken to hospital.

A further 100 also tried to climb the fence but Spanish agents sent them straight back to Morocco. 

Last month, 400 migrants stormed the fence at Ceuta. 

Every year hundreds of sub-Saharan migrants and refugees, some of them living illegally in Morocco, attempt to cross into the two Spanish cities in order to get inside the EU.

Most migrants who try to cross are intercepted and sent back to Morocco and those who make it over the fences are usually repatriated in due course. 

Thousands more try to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean Sea, often in small craft unfit for the open sea.

In 2016 alone, nearly 5,000 people are estimated to have drowned in the Mediterranean while trying to get to Greece, Spain or Italy, according to the Missing Migrants Project.

Also on Sunday, a ship of Spain's maritime rescue service saved 52 migrants trying to reach Spain's southern coast in a small boat.

Ceuta was originally part of the Portuguese Empire after the collapse of the Umayyad caliphate in Spain and North Africa during the Middle Ages before it was formally ceded to Spain in the 17th century. 

It was then settled by many people from all over Spain and when Morocco won independence in 1956 Madrid claimed Ceuta and Melilla had to remain part of their country as they were integral parts of the Spanish state. 

The Spanish coast is only 12 and a half miles from Ceuta and it is attractive to many migrants as one of the only places in Africa which is part of the European Union. 

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