Spain is investigating reports of casualties among a group of migrants trying to reach the Canary Islands from Africa, after the charity Walking Borders quoted survivors of the dinghy as saying Moroccan soldiers had opened fire, killing at least one of them.

Moroccan authorities did not immediately respond to email and telephone requests for comment on the allegation that their forces fired on the group of more than 40 migrants as they attempted to leave in a boat early Tuesday morning, May 23, from a beach south of Cape Bojador. on the northern coast of Western Sahara.

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Reuters could not independently verify the information.

"We are investigating," a Spanish police source told Reuters, referring to reports of injuries.

The charity Walking Borders, which documents the disappearance of migrants at sea, posted a version of the incident on Twitter. "According to Moroccan military survivors, they fired up to four rounds of fire as the boat left a beach south of Cape Bojador on the twenty-third at seven in the morning."

After the incident, the group managed to get away and was finally recovered 12 miles south of Gran Canaria at nine o'clock on Thursday night in a rescue in which Spanish helicopters and patrol boats participated, according to Canarian authorities.

The migrants said they had set sail from the small town of Bojador in Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara, 200 nautical miles south of the Canary Islands, according to authorities.

Three immigrants with gunshot wounds

A Spanish government spokesman in the Canary Islands said he was not aware of gunshot wounds among the arriving migrants - 32 men, nine women and one girl - but that three of them required medical attention, including a pregnant woman, another "indisposed" person and a third with a "leg trauma", Reuters reports.

But a Spanish police source later said one of the three migrants being treated for injuries in the Canary Islands had gunshot wounds and injuries, and that police were gathering evidence for an investigation.

This past night, police sources told Efe that three of the migrants rescued Thursday night by Maritime Rescue from a rubber boat south of Gran Canaria had gunshot wounds and two of them have had to be hospitalized.

These sources have confirmed the hospitalization of the two immigrants, whose lives are not in danger, and have indicated that there is a third minor gunshot wound, which has not required hospital admission and remains in the Temporary Care Center for Foreigners (CATE) of Barranco Seco, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Initially, the CATE asked about 10.00 am on Friday to the Canary Islands Emergency Service to transfer to a health center two occupants of the tire with pain, a source involved in the assistance told Efe.

In one case, it was a person with abdominal pain and, in the other, a woman with a "firearm" impact, who was evacuated to the Insular Hospital of Gran Canaria by ambulance shortly after 10.30 am this Friday.

This woman's gunshot wound was not detected by the toilets at the Arguineguín dock. In fact, he spent the night in police custody.

Subsequently, police sources have raised to three the number of wounded by firearms, although one of them has not had to be admitted.

Rifle bursts

Helena Maleno, head of Walking Borders, said survivors of the incident who remained in Morocco had told her by phone that soldiers from an anti-migration patrol fired up to four rounds of rifle fire at the boat as it exited, hitting a young Malian man in the neck and killing him.

Txema Santana, the Canary Islands government's adviser on migration, told Reuters the migrants had told rescue workers that two people had been shot dead by what they described as "anti-migration control" before leaving Morocco.

Jose Antonio Rodriguez Verona, head of the Red Cross emergency team in the Canary Islands, said exactly what had happened remained unclear and that migrants who managed to reach the Canary Islands did not identify who had opened fire.

"The migrants told us that two people had died on the crossing and that their bodies had been thrown overboard," he told Reuters.

Upon arriving at the port of Arguineguín with the Salvamar Macondo (23.30 hours on Thursday), several of the occupants of the tire reported that they had left Cabo Bojador, in the Sahara, on Tuesday and that they were shot at from land when they tried to embark.

As a result, they detailed, two of the occupants of the boat suffered gunshot wounds and died during the two days of crossing. Their bodies were thrown into the sea, reports Efe.

The Salvamar Macondo arrived in Gran Canaria with the 43 rescued (25 men, ten women and nine minors) almost at midnight. At the Arguineguín dock, these people were provided with the usual assistance by doctors from the Canary Islands public health and the Red Cross and three people were referred to hospitals.

Injuries to migrants are often caused by smuggling gangs following disputes, according to rights and migrant groups who previously spoke to Reuters. However, Moroccan rights groups, including the State Council for Human Rights (CNDH), have also warned of the increasing use of force by Moroccan authorities in controlling migrants from Africa bound for Europe.

Last year, at least 23 people were killed and dozens injured or missing in a massive attempt to cross the border between Morocco and the Spanish North African enclave of Melilla.

  • immigration
  • Morocco
  • Canary Islands
  • National Police

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