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Eight-year-old smuggled into Spain in suitcase, say police

Thousands of African migrants risk their lives each year trying to enter Spanish territory bordering Morocco
Spanish Guardia Civil capture woman with with an 8-year-old boy from Ivory Coast hidden in a suitcase on 8 May (AFP)

Police discovered an eight-year-old Ivorian boy hidden in a suitcase that was smuggled across the border into Spanish territory in North Africa, an official said on Friday.

A 19-year-old woman took the case containing the boy reportedly named Abou through a pedestrian crossing from Morocco into the small Spanish-governed territory of Ceuta on Thursday, a spokesman for the Civil Guard police force said.

"When they put the suitcase through the scanner, the operator noticed something strange, which seemed to be a person inside the case," he told AFP.

"When it was opened they found a minor, in a terrible state."

The Civil Guard arrested the woman, who was later due to go before a judge. Abou is reportedly in the custody of Spanish child protective services, according to an AJ+ report.

Authorities also arrested the boy's father when he tried to cross the border a few hours later. The father is Ivorian and lives in Spain's Canary Islands.

Thousands of migrants risk their lives each year trying to enter Ceuta and another Spanish territory bordering Morocco, Melilla, in search of a better life in Europe.

Many Africans try to scramble over the seven-metre high fences that separate the Spanish cities from Morocco.

Others smuggle themselves over the border hidden in vehicles and cargoes or try to swim or sail from shores on the Moroccan side.

Earlier this week, a 23-year-old Moroccan was found in a shipping container in the port of Melilla.

He was dehydrated after four days, cooped up without food or water, since the container was left unattended over the May holiday weekend.

Over the last couple of months, hundreds of African and Middle Eastern migrants have attempted to cross the Mediterranean into Europe.

More than seven hundred people are thought to have drowned last month when a fishing boat carrying migrants to Europe capsized off Libya, in what was seen as the deadliest Mediterranean migrant disaster in history.