MADRID (AFP) - Police found an eight-year-old Ivorian boy hidden in a suitcase that was smuggled across the border into Spanish territory in north Africa, an official said on Friday.
A 19-year-old woman took the case through a pedestrian crossing from Morocco into the small Spanish-governed territory of Ceuta on Thursday, a spokesman for the Civil Guard police force said.
"When they put the suitcase through the scanner, the operator noticed something strange, which seemed to be a person inside the case," he told AFP.
"When it was opened they found a minor, in a terrible state."
The boy said he was eight years old and from Ivory Coast, according to the spokesman.
The Civil Guard arrested the woman, who was due to go before a judge.
They also arrested the boy's father when he tried to cross the border some time later.
The father is Ivorian and lives in Spain's Canary Islands.
The Spanish newspaper El Pais reported (in Spanish) that the 19-year-old is not related to the boy, and was paid by his father to carry the suitcase, according to the BBC.
The boy's father had hoped to be reunited with his son in Spain, El Pais said.
The Spanish news agency Efe said the boy's father, also named Abou, had travelled back to Ivory Coast to pick him up, having moved to Gran Canaria in 2013.
The father then reportedly paid the Moroccan courier to carry the suitcase. A police spokesman told Efe: "She seemed to hesitate, and it looked as though she didn't want to come through the border.
"At first we thought that there could be drug packages, but gradually discovered that it was a human body."
The boy's father travelled across the border an hour-and-a-half after his son. At that point, Efe said, he was detained by border guards.
Thousands of migrants each year risk their lives trying to enter Ceuta and another Spanish territory bordering Morocco, Melilla, in search of a better life in Europe.
Many Africans try to scramble over the 7m fences that separate the Spanish cities from Morocco.
Others smuggle themselves over the border hidden in vehicles and cargoes or try to swim or sail from shores on the Moroccan side.
Earlier this week a 23-year-old Moroccan was found in a shipping container in the port of Melilla.
He was dehydrated after four days cooped up without food or water, since the container was left unattended over the May holiday weekend.