35 Arrested, At Least 6 Hospitalized in Gibraltar Protests
MADRID, Spain (AP) _ Hundreds of protesters in Gibraltar went on a two-day rampage, smashing windows and burning a police car, after dozens of boats were seized in a crackdown on smuggling in the tiny British territory.
At least six people were hospitalized, including five police officers, and 35 arrested after riots that broke out Friday and persisted Saturday.
The violence erupted after police seized about 50 inflatable boats suspected of smuggling contraband across the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco, Inspector Paul Riley of the Gibraltar police said by telephone.
Most protesters were people demanding their launches back, although police said they had returned some of the boats.
Disturbances were reported across the 2 1/2-square-mile territory Saturday, as up to 300 youths broke shop windows in the main business district.
``We are dealing with the matter, but we will call for back-ups if we need them,″ Riley said. A Foreign Office spokesman in London said there were no plans yet to send back-up forces.
Gibraltar resident Annette Montegriffo said Saturday’s disturbances were mainly in the port area, although she had heard reports of trouble elsewhere.
``We’re not fearful, but it may get worse before it gets better,″ she said.
Spain has also cracked down on border controls between the Gibraltar and Spain, saying it’s an effort to reduce smuggling.
Many of Gibraltar’s 30,000 residents contend the tight border controls are uncalled for at a time of increased cooperation between European countries. They say Spain is trying to squeeze Gibraltar in an effort to return it to Spanish control.
Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 after losing the War of Spanish Succession.