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African migrants try to storm Spanish enclave, perched on border fence in limbo

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MELILLA, Spain — Spanish and Moroccan police thwarted a fresh attempt Thursday by at least 100 African migrants to scale border fences and enter the Spanish enclave of Melilla. At least 25 migrants, many with bloody bare feet, clung to the tops of fences for hours.

After a seven hour standoff, authorities coaxed most of the immigrants down from the fence, gave them water and turned them over to Moroccan police.

The Moroccan state news agency said 100 were involved in the attempt, 64 of whom were arrested.

The attempt was the latest in a recent wave of African migrants trying to breach this unusual border between northern Morocco and the enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta. Success is rare, but the promise is so great — the potential of a better life in Europe — that migrants from around Africa keep taking the risk.

PHOTO: A sub-Saharan migrant sits on top of a pole set in a metallic fence that divides Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla, Thursday, April 3, 2014. Spanish and Moroccan police have thwarted a fresh attempt by dozens of African migrants to try to scale border fences to enter the Spanish enclave of Melilla. Thousands of sub-Saharan migrants seeking a better life in Europe are living illegally in Morocco and regularly try to enter Melilla in the hope of later making it to mainland Spain.  (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
A sub-Saharan migrant sits on top of a pole set in a metallic fence that divides Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla, Thursday, April 3, 2014. Spanish and Moroccan police have thwarted a fresh attempt by dozens of African migrants to try to scale border fences to enter the Spanish enclave of Melilla. Thousands of sub-Saharan migrants seeking a better life in Europe are living illegally in Morocco and regularly try to enter Melilla in the hope of later making it to mainland Spain. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)

In Thursday's assault, several dozen migrants tried to scale the fences but most were driven off, leaving just those perched on the 6-meter (20 foot) fence, who shouted "Freedom!" and "Victory!" and called for the Red Cross to help them from being returned to Morocco.

Two migrants even clung to the top of a lamp post by the fences. After hours of waiting, one buried his head in his hands. Others grimly held on to the fence, their bare feet visibly bloodied by the crossover attempt.

As the weather turned cold and the wind whipped along the picturesque cliffs of the Mediterranean coastline, most of the migrants eventually gave in and descended by ladder to be led limping out of Spain.

At least seven migrants had still refused to come down when Spanish authorities ejected journalists from the area.

Morocco and Spain have stepped up border vigilance since Feb. 6, when 15 migrants drowned trying to enter Spain's other north African coastal enclave, Ceuta.

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PHOTO: A sub-Saharan migrant sits on top of a pole set in a metallic fence that divides Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla, Thursday, April 3, 2014. Spanish and Moroccan police have thwarted a fresh attempt by dozens of African migrants to try to scale border fences to enter the Spanish enclave of Melilla. Thousands of sub-Saharan migrants seeking a better life in Europe are living illegally in Morocco and regularly try to enter Melilla in the hope of later making it to mainland Spain.  (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
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