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French police foil migrants looking to sneak across the Channel by puncturing dinghy with a KNIFE

French police thwart migrants trying to cross the Channel by piercing their dinghy with a knife and destroying the outboard motor

  • It was Saturday just after sunset in Gravelines, between Calais and Dunkirk
  • Migrants came out of the sand dunes and ran to the water
  • They were intercepted by a police car racing across the beach
  • More than 18,000 have crossed the Channel to the UK this year alone

This is the dramatic moment when French police thwarted an attempt to cross the Channel by a group of about 45 migrants by piercing the boat and smashing the engine.

Just after sunset on Saturday night in the sleepy resort town of Gravelines, between Calais and Dunkirk, migrants wearing red life jackets emerged from the sand dunes and ran to the water.

Several women and men carried young children in their arms, while a large group, mostly young men, followed, pulling a black dinghy over their heads. But they were intercepted by a police car speeding down the beach, as officers burst out to stab the dinghy with a knife as the migrants dispersed.

One fell to his knees with his hands over his face when an officer appeared to be using pepper spray. Police then smashed the outboard motor with a hammer and stunned holidaymakers watched as the migrants dejectedly made their way back to the dunes. No arrests were made.

This is the dramatic moment when French police thwarted an attempt to cross the Channel by a group of around 45 migrants by piercing the boat and smashing the engine

This is the dramatic moment when French police thwarted an attempt to cross the Channel by a group of around 45 migrants by piercing the boat and smashing the engine

Just after sunset on Saturday night in the sleepy resort town of Gravelines, between Calais and Dunkirk, migrants wearing red life jackets emerged from the sand dunes and ran to the water

Just after sunset on Saturday night in the sleepy resort town of Gravelines, between Calais and Dunkirk, migrants wearing red life jackets emerged from the sand dunes and ran to the water

The migrants were intercepted by a police car racing down the beach, with officers rushing out to pierce the dinghy with a knife as the migrants dispersed.

The migrants were intercepted by a police car racing down the beach, with officers rushing out to pierce the dinghy with a knife as the migrants dispersed.

Despite their elation, it came on a day when 10 small boats carrying 337 migrants were successfully launched from the French coast and reached the UK – with the total number this year alone exceeding 18,000, according to figures from the Ministry of Defence.

The grim milestone was broken just five days after 696 people were rescued by Border Force and taken to the coast last Monday, the busiest day for crossing the Channel yet this year.

Crossings are likely to continue this week, with the Met Office forecasting warm weather and calm winds on the south coast.

The location at Gravelines has been used in recent months by at least five smuggling gangs who are seemingly growing bolder by attempting dangerous nighttime crossings.

Elia Carpentier, 20, who works at the tourist information office on the beach, told how she saw a boat full of migrants leave the beach at 7 p.m. Friday.

“I was really surprised because normally they leave when the sun goes down or at sunrise,” she said.

An inflatable vessel carrying migrants crosses the English Channel shipping lane to the white cliffs at Dover earlier this month.  the total number exceeds 18,000 this year alone, according to figures from the Ministry of Defense

An inflatable vessel carrying migrants crosses the English Channel shipping lane to the white cliffs at Dover earlier this month. the total number exceeds 18,000 this year alone, according to figures from the Ministry of Defense

“The boat was waiting for them at the water’s edge. I don’t know how many there were, but there were men, women and children in the group.’

The French police operation was the culmination of a tense three-hour cat-and-mouse game between officers and the migrants hiding in the undergrowth behind the dunes.

From 6:30 p.m. until sunset, a Daily Mail reporter and photographer lay in the sand by the water’s edge, taking cover behind a pair of French bird hunters.

From that vantage point it was possible to observe through binoculars two officers constantly watching a group of 18 young male migrants moving through the undergrowth.

Miss Carpentier, 20, who lives next to Gravelines beach, said it was an open secret where the migrants hid before attempting to cross the Channel.

“At the end of the beach is a campground and beyond that is a forest,” she said.

“They camped there for one or two nights before waiting for a boat. They just leave their stuff – I see it when I walk my dog.”

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