The deaths of at least 18 Africans and the injuries of scores more who attempted to scale the border barrier surrounding Melilla, a Spanish outpost in North Africa, have been called into question by human rights organizations in Spain and Morocco.
According to Moroccan authorities, the deaths happened when a “stampede” of individuals attempted to scale the iron fence separating Morocco and Melilla. In a statement issued on Friday, the Moroccan Interior Ministry reported that 76 civilians and 140 Moroccan security personnel had been hurt.
The death toll rose to 18 as many migrants passed away in the hospital, according to local authorities cited by Morocco’s official MAP news agency. Although the number of 27 deaths reported by the Moroccan Human Rights Association could not immediately be verified.
According to MAP, 33 migrants and two members of the Moroccan security forces who were hurt during the border breach were being treated at hospitals in the Moroccan cities of Nador and Oujda.
The “violent assault” and “attack on the territorial integrity” of Spain, according to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, were both condemned on Saturday. 49 Civil Guards were reportedly minorly hurt, according to Spanish officials. The mafias that traffic in human people are to blame, according to Sánchez, for all that appears to have occurred at that border.
His comments came when the Moroccan Human Rights Association posted videos on social media that appeared to show dozens of migrants laying on the ground, some of whom were bleeding and many of whom were unmoving, as Moroccan security forces watched over them.
The human rights organization claimed on Twitter that “they were left there for hours without help, which escalated the number of deaths.” A “comprehensive” probe was demanded. In another of the association’s videos, a Moroccan security officer appeared to use a baton to strike a person lying on the ground.