- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 6, 2005

MELILLA, Spain (AP) — Hundreds of desperate African illegal aliens rushed guard posts surrounding the Spanish enclave of Melilla, and the official Moroccan news agency reported yesterday that six Africans were killed in clashes with Moroccan security services.

Spain then said it would send back 70 Africans who arrived illegally from Morocco. Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said the Malian men will be put on a ship bound for Morocco.

Spain said it was acting under a never-enforced 1992 agreement with Morocco that allows sending back aliens from that country even if they are not Moroccan.

Under Spanish law, the government lets African aliens stay if they are from countries that do not have automatic repatriation agreements with Spain. Most of the recent arrivals came from destitute sub-Saharan countries that lack such accords and refuse to take the people back.

Earlier, the official Maghreb Arab Presse, citing Abdellah Bendhiba, the governor of Nador province, said six Africans were killed overnight during a “violent” run by 400 aliens on guard posts.

Security services responded in self-defense, the report said, adding that about 290 people were arrested.

Press reports said nearly 1,000 Africans seeking to escape poverty and gain a foothold in this outpost of Europe tried to cross over into the tiny Spanish enclave, separated from Morocco by two razor wire fences.

The latest rush was the sixth such mass attempt since last week at the borders of Melilla and Ceuta, another Spanish enclave further west on Morocco’s coast. Five of the incidents were in Melilla, and about 700 men made it into Spain.

Hundreds also tried last week in Ceuta, where five of them were fatally shot.

The two enclaves are the only part of the European Union that shares a border with Africa.

Spain has held Melilla and Ceuta since colonial times, fending off numerous attacks from Morocco, which claims both.

In 2002, Morocco briefly occupied the nearby uninhabited island Perejil, or Leila as it is known in Morocco, and put up Moroccan flags. Spanish forces reconquered the island.

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