At least 800 sub-Saharan African migrants stormed a border fence Sunday between Morocco and Ceuta, an autonomous Spanish city on the northern coast of Africa, according to Spanish and Moroccan officials.
Five Spanish and 50 Moroccan police were injured, ten seriously, as they clashed with migrants who tried to break through the fence using rocks and metal bars.
The Spanish government said two of the migrants were allowed to enter Ceuta for treatment at a local hospital. The rest were returned to Morocco.
Ceuta and Melilla, another Spanish city in northern Africa, are frequently used as entry points into Europe for African migrants, who are in search of a better life. Most who try to cross the border are apprehended and returned to Morocco. Those who succeed in making it over the fences are repatriated or let go. Thousands of others try to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean Sea, often in small boats unfit for the open sea.
Human rights groups have criticized Spain for returning migrants to Morocco. They have argued that bypassing the longer deportation procedures, migrants are deprived the chance to claim asylum.
The International Organization for Migration said there were nearly 5,000 deaths in the Mediterranean in 2016, making it the deadliest year ever for migrants.