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Europeans to Patrol African Coast Against Illegal Immigrants
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Spanish forces and those of eight European nations signed an agreement on Monday to begin patrolling the Atlantic coast of Africa from June 2 to stop sub-Saharan Africans leaving the continent in tiny wooden boats, the Spanish government said.

Spain, Germany, Austria, Finland, France, Italy, Britain, Greece and the Netherlands would send naval forces to Cape Verde, the headquarters of the operation, Antonio Camacho, Spain's security minister, told media.

The troops, who are expected to remain in Cape Verde until September, would become a strike force to deal with "recurring crisis situations," Camacho said after a meeting with representatives from the European Commission's Frontier Agency.

Half of the forces would come directly from the commission, while the remainder would be supplied by the participating nations, said the minister.

Spanish authorities said that this year nearly 7,000 Africans have arrived in Spain's Canary Islands, which face the coasts of Senegal and Mauritania.

The number was around 4,750 last year and just over 8,500 in 2004. As many as 1,000 people are believed to have died in their maritime bid for a new life this year.

(Xinhua News Agency May 30, 2006)

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