RIOTERS took to the streets of La Linea to protest over the deaths of two men in the Strait of Gibraltar late Monday afternoon.

Rubbish containers and lifeguard posts were set on fire as police from both sides of the border attempted to control the mob.

Police reported that stones and other projectiles were thrown at officers by masked rioters and roads were blocked around the Barrio de la Atunara before the crowd moved inland.

Residents needing to pass through were diverted from the area by police road blocks and the Policia Nacional have advised to not travel to the area until tensions have eased.

By Monday afternoon the crowd had dispersed but the police maintained their presence in case trouble reignited.

Protestors blame the police for the death of the two men, a 19-year-old and a 51-year-old, who drowned after their speedboat encountered engine problems and sank two kilometres off the La Atunara beach.

After jumping into the sea to try to fix the problem, the two men decided to try to swim to shore before encountering difficulties.

Police spotted the vessel in trouble from the shore and instructed emergency services to assist, but despite attempts to revive the two men, they were pronounced dead at the scene.

It is thought that the boast was transporting fuel to a larger speedboat suspected of being used for drug trafficking.

Mayor of La Linea, Juan Franco, made a statement on Monday evening regarding the deaths, and explained that it was one of the most ‘complicated’ events that he has had to deal with since he came into office.

“I am sorry for the two deaths and I hope that an investigation will be opened to determine the causes.” said Franco.

Condemning the riots, Franco told reporters, “I feel tremendous shame for everything that is happening in La Atunara. The vast majority of Lineanses are hardworking and honest people who do not deserve what is happening,” he said.

Residents of La Linea have condemned the riots, with many claiming that the rioters are targeting the wrong people.

“They are blaming the police, but they need to focus on the traffickers themselves. They work for peanuts and risk their lives while their bosses earn millions.” one resident told Efe.

Tensions are expected to ease over the course of the week but anyone wanting to travel to the area are advised by the police to check before setting off.

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