A month after a large-scale entry attempt by sub-Saharan immigrants ended in tragedy in Ceuta, early Tuesday morning between 1,000 and 1,200 people launched a massive assault on the frontier separating the Spanish exclave from Morocco. The attempt was the largest single of its kind since would-be immigrants first employed the tactic of rushing the border fences en masse.
In February, several hundred sub-Saharans in two groups probed the fences, with many taking to the water to attempt to swim around the seawall that forms part of the border on Tarajal beach. Spanish security forces fired rubber bullets to repel the attempt, and 15 people are known to have drowned in the ensuing chaos. Spain has reiterated that its border personnel fired purely as a deterrent and away from the crush of humanity. Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks is planning to visit Ceuta and Melilla.
Until Tuesday, the largest attempts had been comprised of around 500 people. The central government delegation in Ceuta said that this assault had involved around 90 percent of the total number of immigrants camped out in the nearby mountains, where some remain for months or even years waiting for their chance to reach European soil. On this occasion the Civil Guard was not required, with Moroccan security forces driving back the attempt without reported incidents.
Other attempts were also launched, including 50 people who attempted the route around Tarajal beach and another 400 who tried the passageway at the border used by porters and traders. The security forces in Ceuta said they had been aware of the coming attempt because of the huge concentration of people building up in the mountains around the exclave.
According to the Civil Guard, none of the would-be migrants succeeded in reaching Spain on this occasion.