Migrant Killed After Morocco’s Navy Fires on Boat

A migrant has been killed after Morocco's navy opened fire on a boat carrying her and more than two dozen others, a human rights group said Wednesday.

The 22-year-victim, who was studying law, died before reaching a hospital, said Mohamed Benaissa, the head of Morocco's Northern Observatory for Human Rights. Three other migrants were wounded in Tuesday's confrontation, he said.

The speedboat was carrying 25 Moroccan nationals and two Spanish captains, Benaissa said by telephone.

The Spanish Foreign Ministry confirmed that two of its nationals had been arrested by Moroccan authorities, one of them with a criminal record. The official declined to elaborate on the criminal record, according to the official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly. Spain's Europa Press, a private news agency, said the Spaniard had been charged twice and detained at least 16 times for violence against women and other unspecified crimes.

Morocco's Interior Ministry said the boat was illegally transporting migrants.

It was the second time in recent days that Morocco's Royal Navy intervened to stop a boat suspected of carrying migrants across the Mediterranean, and comes amid growing concerns about migrant trafficking in the western Mediterranean region. The central Mediterranean route, mainly between Libya and Italy, is being choked off by the Libyan coast guard chasing after smugglers' small boats and returning migrants to Libya.

One of the wounded was shot in the arm as he tried to urge one of the Spanish captains to stop the boat when the navy spotted it, Benaissa said. Doctors at the provincial hospital of the Prefecture of M'diq-Fnideq amputated his arm and he's been transferred to Rabat for intensive care, he said.

Moroccan authorities didn't immediately respond to requests for more details.

In a separate case, police in Tangiers have arrested two people aged 35 and 45, including a Spanish citizen residing illegally in Morocco, who are suspected of running a criminal network facilitating illegal migration.

Source: Voice of America