Spain laments use of rubber bullets in enclave

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MADRID (AP) — Spain's interior minister acknowledged Monday that police should not have fired rubber bullets to try to deter migrants trying to enter Spain's northwest African enclave of Ceuta by sea last month, when at least 15 people drowned.

Jorge Fernandez Diaz told Onda Cero radio that in retrospect rubber bullets were unlikely to deter the dozens of sub-Saharan migrants trying to swim around a border pier from Morocco to Spain on Feb. 6.

Spain has consistently defended police action on the day despite criticism from the European Union and rights groups who said the bullets could have played a role in the drownings.

Thousands of migrants seeking a better life in Europe live illegally in Morocco and regularly try to enter Ceuta and Spain's other Mediterranean coastal enclave, Melilla.

Several hundred migrants tried to scale the border fences of Melilla late Sunday with 15 managing to get across, said the city's Interior Ministry delegate, Alfredo Menendez.

He said Moroccan security forces had thwarted other attempts by hundreds of migrants earlier in the day.

Those that cross into the enclaves are normally placed in centers while authorities try to repatriate them.

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