Dozens of illegal immigrants penetrated the border dividing Spain’s territory of Melilla from neighboring Morocco for the second day in a row. On October 16, the mostly young and male immigrants came across the heavily defended border in broad daylight, while on October 15 they had come at night. According to police and local witnesses, nearly 60 Sub-Saharan African immigrants assaulted the border at approximately 3 PM local time. So far, Spanish officials have not been able to provide an official count of the intruders. It is believed, however, that this is one of the biggest mass assaults made by illegal immigrants in recent years. Authorities are now attempting to apprehend the intruders.
Officials estimate that as many as 450 illegal immigrants may have entered the Spanish enclave. The first happened at approximately 9 PM local time on October 13, the second at approximately 5 AM on October 15, and then the latest came on the afternoon of October 16.
The intruders managed to climb over a double fence barrier measuring 20 feet in height and are now believed to have escaped to neighborhoods in Melilla harboring other illegal immigrants, such as the Constitución and Cañada de Hidum districts. According to witnesses, some of the immigrants were injured while scaling the border fences while others managed to get to the Spanish side of the fence nearly nude, having torn and lost their clothing to the barbed wire. One of the Spanish residents of Melilla said that he and others have given the immigrants food and water and sought to comfort the Sub-Saharan intruders.
President José Palazón of the PRODEIN child advocacy organization told local media “arrests are underway in the areas near Farhana. They are taking the immigrants to CETI (Spain's Temporary Lodging for Immigrants), along the border. They want to send them back to Morocco.”
On October 15, a wave of more than 100 immigrants assailed the border barrier at Rio Nano. The immigrant intruders “undertook the assault in the presence of the members of non-profit groups such as PRODEIN." A spokesman for the Civil Guard said “Some of them, before attempting to enter Spanish soil, gave the victory sign by using their index and middle fingers.” The Civil Guard is Spain’s national paramilitary police.
The Civil Guard spokesperson said that the immigrants managed to climb the barrier in groups of twenty on the afternoon of October 15. The assault caused alarm among school children and their parents at a local school who were being dismissed for the afternoon. A captain and other members of the Civil Guard were injured as they tried to stop the entry of the immigrants. The Civil Guard called for an ambulance to take one of the immigrants, who had injured his head after falling from the border fence, to a local hospital.
The immigrants attacked the Civil Guard with volleys of stones and damaged one of the official vehicles. The Civil Guard provided reinforcements to local police facilities in view of the situation. Since the beginning of September 2012 until now, there had been no such mass assaults on Melilla’s borders. By September 4, there were three minor assaults on the border fence in just three days, however.
Melilla has been a Spanish possession since 1497 and is one of two Spanish territories on the African mainland along with the city of Ceuta. Spain once held Spanish Guinea and Spanish Morocco but has since ceded them to local control.