A woman was killed and three people were injured yesterday when the Moroccan navy opened fire at a speedboat with illegal migrants onboard, it emerged today.
The boat’s Spanish driver refused an order to stop before the navy fired off Morocco’s territorial waters, a government official said.
The woman died of her injuries in hospital.
Morocco became the main launchpad for Europe-bound migrants in July after Italy took a tougher line and EU aid to the Libyan coastguard stemmed flows from Libya.
More than 38,852 people have crossed into Spain up to mid-September, UN data shows, at least twice as many as the same period of 2017.
So far this year, Moroccan officials said they foiled more than 54,000 crossing attempts to Europe. Some 13 percent of those would-be migrants are Moroccans while the rest come from other African countries.
It comes as French European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was behaving ‘like Pontius Pilate,’ the Roman official who condemned Jesus Christ to death, over his position on migrants.
Loiseau made the comments on French radio RTL as she discussed the situation regarding the Mediterranean rescue ship Aquarius.
France, Portugal, Spain and Germany agreed on Tuesday to take in migrants from the rescue ship sailing off the coast of Malta, after Italy refused to let the vessel dock.
‘Mr Salvini today, he’s like Pontius Pilate. It’s obscene,’ Loiseau told RTL radio.
Far-right leader Salvini, who is also Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister, has taken a tough line on the issue of immigrants arriving in Italy from Africa and the Middle East.
Earlier this month, he likened African immigrants to slaves at a European conference.
Spain will take 15 of the passengers from the ship while Portugal had said it would take 10 of the migrants.
They have been given a new home in Fundao, a small Portuguese town about 160 miles north of the capital Lisbon with 30,000 inhabitants.
The group of 19 migrants from Eritrea, Nigeria, Yemen and Sudan had arrived in the town and would now go through an employment course, involving classes in Portuguese.
‘The arrival of this group of migrants is a result of Portugal’s commitment to solidarity and European cooperation on migrants,’ a government statement said.