CEUTA, Spain, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Five Spanish policemen and 50 Moroccan security force members were injured when more than 1,100 migrants attempted to rush the border fence separating Morocco from Spain's Ceuta enclave.
"[Migrants tried] to force open some of the doors in the external fence, using iron bars, wire cutters and large stones with which they assaulted Moroccan forces and [Spanish] Guardia Civil [police] agents," officials with a central government office in Ceuta said in a released statement.
Officials said the attempt to cross the border was well organized and violent in nature. The rush began in the early hours of New Year's Day morning. Hundreds successfully scaled the first of two barbed wire fences, and some attempted to breach doors in the second fence using wire cutters.
Only two men successfully made it over both fences, but both were badly injured and taken to the hospital for treatment. The rest were returned to Morocco. Many men sat straddling the top of the first fence for several hours before being lifted down by cranes.
The Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta are the only two land borders connecting North Africa to Europe. African immigrants have long sought to make their way past the newly reinforced fences and apply for asylum and resettlement in Europe. Few are successful. Human rights groups have criticized Spain in the past for returning migrants without offering them the chance to apply for asylum.