Spain 'very worried' by Morocco raid in W.Sahara

12th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

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 11 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 said.

"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 say 10 of the 11 people killed were police and the other victim was an employee of the state-run phosphates bureau.

The Polisario Front, which opposes Moroccan rule in Western Sahara, also says 11 people died in Monday's raid to clear 12,000 refugees but has indicated that at least some 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."

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

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