Spain 'very concerned' by Morocco raid in W.Sahara
Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez said Friday she was deeply concerned by the "very serious" events of a Moroccan police raid on a refugee camp in Western Sahara, which left 12 people dead.
Clashes erupted Monday when Moroccan forces broke up a camp housing thousands of refugees outside the main town of Laayoune in the former Spanish colony annexed by Rabat in 1975.
"We are very concerned because we think the events that occurred are very serious," Jimenez told the private television station Telecinco.
"Faced with confusion and uncertainty over the number of victims and wounded we are waiting for a definitive report so as to make an assessment."
Moroccan officials said late Thursday the toll had climbed by one to 12 after the death of a demonstrator. They say 10 of those killed in the clashes were from the security forces.
The Polisario Front, which opposes Moroccan rule in Western Sahara, has indicated that at least some of the victims were civilians.
Jimenez said no country in the world had made a declaration on the raid because the situation was confused, and "we want to avoid making an incorrect statement."
"We want to reject the use of violence, urge the parties to continue dialogue in search of a peaceful solution."
The minister said one man among the victims, Baby Hamadi Buyema, apparently had a Spanish identity docuument and asked Rabat to provide all available information about his death.
In the eastern Spanish city of Alicante, his brother Lehmad Hamday Buyema accused the Moroccan police of having "brutally murdered" his brother by hitting him with a car.
Spain's foreign minister said she had asked the Moroccan authorities to allow journalists to do their job so that people could understand what was happening there. Three journalists from the private Spanish radio Cadena Ser were at the airport waiting to be expelled from Laayoune, she said.
Western Sahara was annexed by Morocco after Spanish settlers withdrew in 1975, but the Polisario Front fought the Moroccan presence until the United Nations brokered a ceasefire in 1991.
The Polisario Front wants a UN-organised referendum on self-determination, with independence as one of the options. Morocco has so far rejected any proposal that goes beyond greater autonomy.
The third round of informal talks between the Polisario Front and Morocco on Western Sahara's future ended Tuesday near New York with both sides only agreeing to meet again in December.
© 2010 AFP