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Nine immigrants drown off Spain

The body of one of the victims is airlifted from a Spanish beach  

LONDON, England (CNN) -- At least nine Africans have drowned trying to swim to Spain's Canary Islands.

Spanish police detained another eight men in the incident, which came a day after four men died in the sea off the Spanish mainland.

Spain and Morocco this week exchanged angry words over each other's efforts to stem the flow of African migrants.

Spain's Foreign Minister Josep Pique said on Tuesday he had summoned Morocco's ambassador to express concern that not enough was being to stem record numbers of illegal immigrants coming into Spain.

Last weekend an estimated 800 immigrants were detained on Spain's southern coast and the Canary Islands, Spanish police said. At least two people died before reaching shore.

Spain is a major European entry point for illegal immigrants from Morocco and other north and sub-Saharan Africa countries.

Last year about 15,000 African immigrants tried to enter Spain -- four times as many as in 1999.

Many of them crossed the Straits of Gibraltar at night in small boats to avoid detection.

Each year, scores are believed to drown in the narrow stretch of water dividing Spain from Morocco.

In January, Spain introduced a tougher immigration law in a bid to deter people from entering the country without a visa.

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