Almost 600 migrants tried to enter Europe by storming border fences separating Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta from Morocco on Thursday, emergency services said.
The Spanish Red Cross said in a tweet it was called to check on 592 people after the massive assault shortly after dawn. The Red Cross said 132 migrants were hurt as they scaled the high, barbed-wire fences and 11 were taken to hospital for treatment.
It said 22 police officers were also hurt and four of them were hospitalized.
The Spanish government did not immediately say how many migrants made it onto Spanish soil.
As the migrants scaled the fences, they threw feces and quicklime, a skin irritant, at police officers trying to hold them back, Spanish news agency Europa Press reported, citing unidentified police sources and emergency crews.
Sub-Saharan Africans living illegally in Morocco try to get to Europe each year by climbing rows of 6-meter (20-feet) high fences surrounding Ceuta and Melilla, Spain’s other North African enclave. Those who make it across head for crowded, temporary migrant accommodation centers. They are eventually repatriated or let go.
Thursday’s mass charge added to pressure on Spanish authorities from a recent wave of migration, mostly migrants crossing the Mediterranean on unsafe boats.
The International Organization for Migration says so far this year more than 22,700 migrants have arrived in Spain – three times more than in the same period last year.
Almost 20,000 of them arrived by sea, as good weather allowed more crossings on the short route across the Strait of Gibraltar and a recent crackdown by Libyan authorities had led migrants to choose other routes.