Spain will cooperate “fully” with the investigation into the death of migrants

Pedro Sanchez said on Wednesday that Madrid would offer “full cooperation” with Spanish and Moroccan investigations into the deaths of 23 migrants during a massive infiltration attempt into the Spanish enclave of Melilla.

The Spanish premier’s statement came a day after the United Nations condemned the authorities on the border between Morocco and Spain for using “excessive force”, calling it “unacceptable”.

The tragedy occurred at dawn on Friday when about 2,000 migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, tried to break through the fence from Morocco to Melilla, one of Spain’s two tiny North African enclaves.

“I deplore the loss of life and express my solidarity with the families of the dead migrants,” Sanchez told Radio Cadena Ser, promising his government would work with investigators to understand what happened.

Sanchez stressed that three investigations had been launched: one by the Moroccan prosecutor’s office, one by the Spanish prosecutor’s office and a third by the Spanish ombudsman.

“We have to trust these institutions and I promise the government’s full cooperation with their efforts to find out what happened,” he said.

Moroccan authorities said some of the victims fell while trying to climb over the fence, bringing the death toll initially to 18 but later rose to 23 after five more migrants died from their injuries.

There were few details about the incident, but Spanish media showed footage of people on the ground, some with bloody hands and torn clothes.

The death toll was the highest in years of migrants trying to enter the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, which share only the EU’s land borders with Africa, making them a magnet for those desperate to escape extreme poverty and hunger.

In Morocco, prosecutors are filing charges against 65 migrants, mostly from Sudan, for attempting to storm the border, a defense lawyer in Rabat said.

Spanish prosecutors on Tuesday launched their own investigation “to find out what happened,” citing the “seriousness and severity” of the incident.