EFECeuta, Spain

At least 8,000 migrants have illegally entered the Spanish territory of Ceuta from Morocco by swimming or wading around the coastal border fence that separates the territories, authorities said Tuesday.

It is the largest number of migrants ever to arrive on Spanish soil over the course of a single day.

Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, traveled to Ceuta on Tuesday afternoon.

At a brief press conference, he warned Morocco that he will protect Spain's territorial integrity "with all the necessary means" and guaranteed the safety of the citizens of Ceuta in any eventuality.

He said that "human, historical, cultural, economic and strategic ties compel us both to cooperate and work together to progress together. This cooperation must be based on the respect for mutual borders, which is the basis for friendly countries as neighbors," he said.

The European Union also expressed its support for Spain on Tuesday, making it clear that "Spanish borders are European borders", and called on Morocco to respect its commitments and combat irregular immigration.

Spain’s interior ministry said that about half of the migrants had been sent back to Morocco, and that more officers would be deployed.

Spanish troops were mobilized on Monday after the first large groups of migrants managed to breach the border, which is demarcated by a fence that extends out into the sea.

The episode is the latest in a diplomatic crisis between Spain and Morocco that began after a Western Saharan separatist leader, Brahim Ghali of the Polisario Front, was admitted to a Spanish hospital for treatment for Covid-19, a move which angered Rabat. EFE

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