Morocco arrests 32 migrants heading to Spain, jails 80

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Moroccan police on Friday arrested 32 migrants as they tried to set sail for Spain, authorities said, including six Moroccans and 26 from other African nations to the south.

The group were arrested on the coast with an inflatable boat near the southern town of Tantan, which lies some 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Spain’s Canary Islands, the DGSN security service said.

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At least 11,500 migrants made their way to the Canary Islands this year, according to Spain.

Caminando Fronteras, a Spanish group that helps migrant boats in trouble at sea and families searching for missing relatives, says 978 people have died while trying to reach Spain so far this year.

Moroccan police have arrested dozens of migrants as well as several people smugglers since June, when some 2,000 mostly Sudanese nationals tried to enter the Spanish enclave of Melilla.

At least 23 people died in the attempt, the worst toll in years of such attempted crossings, and rights groups accused both Spanish and Moroccan authorities of using excessive force.

The Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta have long been a magnet for people fleeing violence and poverty across Africa hoping to find a better life in Europe.

According to Morroco’s AMDH rights group, around 80 migrants of various nationalities were sentenced to prison terms this week ranging from two to four months in jail for illegally entering the North African kingdom.

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