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UN accuses Morocco, Spain of ‘excessive force’ in migrant tragedy

The United Nations on Tuesday denounced what it called “excessive force” by authorities on the border between Morocco and Spain and demanded an investigation of the deaths of 23 people when migrants stormed the border.

About 2,000 African migrants were attempting to cross the border from Morocco into the Spanish enclave of Melilla when the violence unfolded on Friday.

“We saw the use of excessive force by the authorities, which needs to be investigated because it is unacceptable,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, told reporters.

“People who are on the move have human rights and those need to be respected and we’re seeing them all too often disrespected. We’ve seen it on both sides of the border,” Dujarric added.

Earlier in the day, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also called for an investigation of the tragedy.

At the request of Kenya, the UN Security Council will hold a closed-door meeting on the incident on Wednesday.

Some 140 police officers were wounded in the violence in Melilla, according to Moroccan officials.

It was the heaviest toll in years from such attempts to cross the frontier at Melilla.