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Spain has expelled 116 immigrants to Morocco, a day after they crossed the fence into Ceuta, interior ministry sources have told news agency EFE. This follows an extraordinary operation by the Spanish National Police and Civil Guard.

Ceuta is a Spanish autonomous city on the North African coast. Lying across the Strait of Gibraltar from mainland Spain, it shares a land border with Morocco, guarded by parallel 6-metre high (20 foot) fences, topped with barbed wire. This is the fence the immigrants crossed yesterday. Ceuta is a popular route for people trying to get into or claim asylum in Europe.

Morocco agreed to readmit them yesterday and Spanish police went through the standard procedure to expel them, the same sources say. They add that it was done on an individual basis, immigrant by immigrant, with legal and medical aid.

The 116 have been returned in groups of 10 this Thursday, based on an agreement signed with Morocco in 1992.

The new attack on the fence happened on Wednesday morning at around 9am. Immigrants managed to get onto the Berrocal farm, the same area 602 immigrants managed to cross at the end of July.

Seven agents were injured in the incident. The violence reportedly used by those trying to cross revived petitions from Civil Guard associations to increase protection for those guarding the border.

With this new group, the number of people who have entered Spain via the land border at Ceuta this year rises to 1,400, lower than the 1,623 recorded in 2017 by the same date.