Interior Ministry orders patrols not to fire rubber bullets at immigrants

Instruction comes in wake of recent incidents at Ceuta and Melilla border crossings

The Interior Ministry has issued a verbal command to Civil Guard patrols in Ceuta and Melilla not to fire rubber bullets at immigrants trying to make it across the border into the two Spanish North African exclaves, government sources said Tuesday, confirming an earlier report by newspaper El Mundo.

Ministry sources said that the Civil Guard was authorized to use anti-riot equipment but considered that rubber bullets were not “an effectively dissuasive method.” From now on only methods such as blank cartridges, shields and batons will be used in the event of officers having to repel an assault at border fences.

The order comes after 15 people drowned on February 6 trying to swim to the Ceuta security fence from Morocco. Although the ministry initially denied it, Civil guards on duty at the border at the time fired rubber bullets in the direction of the migrants as they tried to reach the Spanish coast.

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