Moroccan authorities have intercepted a large canoe with 130 Senegalese migrants on board after it ran aground off Dakhla port in Western Sahara, a military source told state media.
At least 253 migrants from sub-Saharan African countries have now been intercepted by the authorities since August 8, according to an AFP count compiled from Moroccan military sources.
The official news agency MAP quoted the military source as saying the latest interception took place on Saturday.
It said members of a coastal surveillance unit intercepted the canoe after it ran aground off Dakhla “with 130 Senegalese would-be irregular migrants on board, including a woman”.
Spain’s Canary Islands are only about 150 kilometres (90 miles) off southern Morocco’s Atlantic coast.
Atlantic crossings began surging in late 2019 after increased patrols dramatically reduced Mediterranean crossings by migrants seeking a better life in Europe.
The Canary migratory route has experienced a marked upsurge in activity in recent weeks.
MAP said the canoe intercepted on Saturday had “set sail from the Fass Boye area near Thies in Senegal for the Canary Islands”.
On Friday, the Moroccan navy rescued more than 60 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa when their boat got into difficulties in the Atlantic off Tarfaya in the south.
On Tuesday, more than 50 migrants were intercepted off the Atlantic coast a day after MAP reported the navy had recovered the bodies of five migrants and rescued 189 after their boat capsized off Western Sahara.
Morocco usually sends intercepted migrants from Senegal back to their home country.
At least 13 Senegalese died in mid-July when their boat sank off Morocco, according to authorities in Senegal.