Migrants die trying to enter Spanish enclave in N. Africa

Ceuta, Spain, Feb 6 (EFE).- At least seven sub-Saharan migrants drowned Thursday in a mass attempt to enter this Spanish city surrounded by Morocco, Spanish government sources told Efe.

They said seven or eight bodies had been recovered from Morocco's Mediterranean coastal waters, where a search for more victims was continuing.

The fatalities were part of a group of some 400 migrants who attempted an illegal border crossing at around 7:00 a.m. Thursday.

The migrants traveled to the border of the 18.5 sq.-kilometer (7-sq.-mile) autonomous Spanish city from the Rif mountains, prompting the rapid intervention of the Moroccan police.

The migrants divided themselves up into several groups, with many trying to storm the border fence while others ran into the sea to flee from the police. None of them made their way into Ceuta.

This latest incident comes four days after five bodies of sub-Saharan migrants - whose boat likely capsized - washed up on the Moroccan coast between Nador and Driouch, near the Spanish autonomous city of Melilla.

Pieces of an inflatable boat were found along with the dead migrants, four of whom were identified as Senegalese.

Sub-Saharan migrants have made several attempts in recent months to make their way into the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, which are viewed as springboards to a better life in Europe.