At least 4 people were killed & seventy wounded in a raid by Moroccan forces on a protest camp in the disputed area of Western Sahara, sources on both rival sides have said.
The Gdaim Izik camp, which houses 12,000 Saharawi refuges, had formed up outside Laayoune, the main town in Western Sahara, 4 weeks ago, in protest against the impairment of living conditions in the area.
The violence, which afterward spread to the streets of Laayoune itself, comes on the eve of talks between Morocco & the Polisario Front movement, which looks for independence for the Western Sahara, in the US aimed at ending the dispute over the region.
Protestors, including women and children, said security forces trying to close the camp used tear gas and beat them with batons.
Morocco said, its 2 police officers & a fireman were killed by protesters, while the pro-independence Polisario Front said Moroccan security forces killed a 26-year-old activist during the raid.
The Polisario Front accused the Moroccan forces of wounding hundreds of people in the raid.
The foreign minister in a self-appointed government for the area Mohamed Salem Ould Salek said, the attack “left hundreds of wounded”.
He said.”I can’t yet tell you the exact figure, notably if anyone was killed, but the hospitals are full,”
He said the Moroccan forces had “repressed in a ferocious and undiscriminating fashion the defenceless civilians who found themselves in the camp”.