RABAT, July 15 (Xinhua) -- The Moroccan navy have rescued 78 illegal sub-Saharan African migrants off the kingdom's northern coast, local media reported on Sunday.
According to Le360.ma news site, the Moroccan navy intercepted the migrants' boat while it got into trouble en route to the Spanish coast.
After receiving the necessary care, the migrants were transferred to the port of Zahta in the northern city of Ksar el-Kebir, and were handed over to the competent security authorities to take legal actions against them.
In other separate operations, some 162 suspected illegal migrants were arrested in several cities while they were trying to embark on boats to Spain.
After years of surge in the Libyan-Italian route, migration attempts to Europe via the Moroccan-Spanish route has witnessed a drastic hike during the recent months.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 15,426 reached Spain by sea from January to July this year, compared to only 6,513 migrants during the same period a year earlier and 8,100 during the whole year of 2016.
In 2017, Morocco's Interior Ministry said that security forces arrested some 50,000 migrants and dismantled over 70 organized illegal migration networks.