5 Moroccan troops, 1 civilian killed in W. Sahara

November 9, 2010 06:15
1 minute read.

RABAT, Morocco  — Moroccan forces raided a protest camp in the disputed territory of Western Sahara on Monday and unrest spread to a nearby city, with buildings ablaze and rioters roaming the streets. Five Moroccan security officials and one demonstrator were killed, reports said.

Moroccan officials moved into the camp at dawn, reportedly using tear gas and pressure hoses to dismantle it. Once unrest reached the city of Laayoune, Spanish National Television showed black smoke pouring from at least four tall buildings and an explosion that sent flames into the air.The unrest came hours before the reopening of informal UN-sponsored talks Monday in Manhasset, New York, between Morocco and the Polisario Front, which long waged a guerrilla war on Morocco in a bid to gain independence for the desert region and its native Saharawi people.

The latest tensions started in mid-October, when some residents of Laayoune set up the Gdim Izik tent camp 10 kilometers (six miles) east of the city to protest poor living conditions. Monday's operation to dismantle it took less than an hour, according to Moroccan radio.

"It was a very forceful intervention," Galia Djimi, a Moroccan human rights activist in Laayoune, told The Associated Press. "People have been beaten. There are injured people."

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