Reports: Amid growing Moroccan criticism, Spain mobilizes forces to protect North African enclaves
Spain has intensified its military presence in its North African enclave of Melilla following Morocco's criticism of Madrid for refusing to discuss the Spanish cities on its coast, a newspaper reported on Monday.
The ABC newspaper reported that Madrid had sent a company of regular troops and two patrol boats to the Chafarinas Islands to the east of Melilla, close to Morocco's border with Algeria. This move came after Morocco's King Mohammed attacked Spain's refusal to discuss the future of what he called the "occupied zones" of Ceuta and Melilla.
Spain considers the enclaves of about 70,000 people each to be fully integrated parts of Spain but Morocco sees them as colonies occupied by a foreign power that should have been returned to Morocco upon independence from France in 1956.
Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio told a newspaper on Sunday she hoped to restore mutual trust with Morocco following their territorial spat over the Leila/Perejil islet, but that would never lead to talks on Morocco's claims over Ceuta and Melilla.
In a Ceuta neighborhood, close to the Moroccan border, a police patrol was attacked by several stone throwers on Sunday morning. Three similar incidents were reported in recent days, Efe news agency reported. On Friday, Ceuta police officer was hospitalized after an attack by some 50 stone throwers. (Albawaba.com)
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