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Death toll rises among African migrants

Written by: Staff

RABAT, July 4 (Reuters) Moroccan authorities found the bodies of nine more migrants today, bringing to 30 the total number that have washed up onto the Atlantic shore, officials said.

Meanwhile, the death toll from the latest attempt by African migrants to storm into the Spanish enclave of Melilla in north Africa has risen to three, a Moroccan official said.

The deaths underlined the urgency of the immigration issue ahead of next week's Europe-Africa conference on migration in Rabat.

The Moroccan official said the third fatality at Melilla was a 28-year-old Cameroonian who died in hospital from pelvic injuries following the incident, in which up to 70 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa tried to stampede into the Spanish enclave.

Two other men were also killed in Monday's incident, when migrants rushed a 6-metre (20-foot) fence at dawn with makeshift ladders. Moroccan guards fired warning shots to stop them entering, officials said.

One of the two men reported dead on Monday fell onto the Spanish side of the fence while the other died on the way to a Moroccan hospital. At least eight others were seriously injured by razor wire.

It was the first mass attempt to enter Spain's African enclaves since October 2005. Then, six men were shot dead when Moroccan troops opened fire on more than 100 migrants.

On the Atlantic shoreline, Moroccan authorities discovered five migrant bodies at the village of Foum el Oued, 25 km (15 miles) from Western Sahara's main city Laayoune, where 21 other corpses were found yesterday.

The bodies of four more migrants washed up on Tuesday at the nearby village of Dzira, Moroccan officials said.

Moroccan authorities were searching for survivors following yesterday's sinking of a boat carrying migrants off the coast of Western Sahara.

Officials said up to 40 other migrants were believed missing following the incident. The boat was believed to have been sailing to Spain's Canary Islands.

Reuters DH VP0120

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