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Migrants storm Spanish border fence in Melilla again

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

About 200 African migrants charged a barbed-wire border fence that separates the Spanish exclave of Melilla from Morocco on Thursday but fewer than 10 got over, local officials said, the latest in a string of coordinated assaults on the frontier.

The migrants caused light damage to a stretch of around 30 metres (100 feet) of the fence, Spanish government officials in the territory which borders northern Morocco said in a statement.

"On this occasion a strong Guardia Civil deployment managed to drive back the assault and fewer than 10 migrants managed to enter," it said.

In the past few days hundreds of sub-Saharan African migrants have tried to enter Melilla and Ceuta, Spain's other north African territory, in similar border assaults.

The most spectacular such assault took place in Melilla on Tuesday when about 300 migrants tore down part of the six-metre (20-foot) high fence and about 100 made it through.

While some of the migrants climbed the fence, others threw objects at border guards who were trying to stop them.

Police video images showed dozens of migrants scrambling over the fence and starting to run as soon as they hit Spanish soil.

Nine migrants were treated at a Melilla hospital for injuries suffered during the border assault, including one who fractured his leg when he fell from the fence, the statement said.

Scores of other migrants who did not make it across the border were also injured.

In a separate incident on the same day, another 350 people, described as migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, tried to reach Ceuta by swimming to one of its beaches from a nearby Moroccan shore.

Spain is one of the main entry points in Europe for clandestine migrants from Africa.

Hundreds of migrants seeking access to Europe camp around Ceuta and Melilla hoping for a chance to cross into the territories.

Human rights groups say the migrants are brought to Morocco from other African countries by traffickers and camp in the wild while waiting for a chance to cross.

Saikou, 21, from Timbuktu, arrived in Morocco six months ago after travelling across the Sahara.

"We came here because of the war in Mali. We haven't come here to rape or to steal, but to search for a better life," he told AFP at a forest in northern Morocco that overlooks Melilla.

"When I get there, all my dreams will come true," he added with a laugh, gazing down at the twinkling Spanish town.

Others try to reach Spanish soil by sailing across the Mediterranean in makeshift vessels. On Monday officials said one migrant was found dead and a dozen were missing after their boat capsized in the attempt.

Ceuta and Melilla have the European Union's only land borders with Africa.

The two territories have long been a flashpoint in Moroccan and Spanish diplomatic relations.

Rabat has always considered Ceuta and Melilla to be part of its territory, although they have been under Spanish control for more than 400 years.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130919/migrants-storm-spanish-border-fence-melilla-again-0