Migrants clash with Spanish police in central Madrid after the death of a 35-year-old African vendor who witnesses say died trying to escape from police cracking down on illegal street sales.

Spanish national police officers walk a street during a protest following the death of a street vendor at Lavapies district in Madrid on March 15, 2018.
Spanish national police officers walk a street during a protest following the death of a street vendor at Lavapies district in Madrid on March 15, 2018. (AFP)

Migrants clashed with security forces in central Madrid on Thursday night following the death of a Senegalese man whom they said was chased through the streets by police.

Riot police and firefighters were deployed to Lavapies, a district in the centre of the Spanish capital with a large immigrant population, as angry protesters set fire to dustbins and a motorbike, and threw stones at security forces.

Demonstrators told AFP news agency that they were protesting in support of Mmame Mbage, a street vendor in his mid-thirties from Senegal, who arrived in Spain by boat 12 years ago. 

Cardiac arrest caused death

Emergency services said Mbage was found unconscious on a street in Lavapies by police on patrol.

"They were busy trying to revive him" when emergency workers arrived, a spokesperson said. However, he died of cardiac arrest.

She did not know what had happened to Mbage before he collapsed, but several other street vendors who were with him said he had been chased by police from Puerta del Sol.

Investigation ordered

"Municipal police arrived and chased him from Sol to Lavapies with a motorbike," said Modou, a 25-year-old vendor from Senegal who refused to give his surname.

"At the end he died here," Modou said, with others confirming the account.

"I regret very much the death of a citizen in Lavapies," Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena tweeted, adding that the municipal government would "investigate thoroughly what happened and act accordingly."

Mbage worked as an illegal vendor and sent some money back to his family, one of thousands of migrants who have reached Spain over the years in search of a better life.

Spain is the third-busiest gateway for migrants coming to Europe, with close to 23,000 arrivals in 2017. Hundreds have died along the way.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies