Morocco wants four foreigners in Western Sahara to leave

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Morocco requested Saturday that four foreigners in the Western Sahara's main town of Laayoune leave its territory, amid ongoing world criticism of its deadly police raid on a squatter camp there.

The four -- three Spaniards and a Mexican -- are invited to present themselves to the closest government authority "to help them leave national territory," the interior ministry said in a statement published by Morocco's official MAP news agency.

It identified the four as Spaniards Javier Sopina Arias, Garcia Diaz Silvia and Terreza Rebollo Isabelle and Mexican Velasquez Diaz Jose.

While Moroccan authorities are not actively seeking the four "given they have committed no legal infraction," the statement said, a security official described them as being involved in activities in Laayoune supportive of Western Sahara's Sahrawi population.

On Saturday, thousands of people demonstrated in Madrid against this week's raid by Moroccan police of a camp near Laayoune housing thousands of Sahrawis.

Moroccan authorities and the Polisario Front, which opposes Moroccan rule in Western Sahara, have offered vastly different casualty estimates from the clashes that erupted during the raid.

Media and rights groups also have said a number of journalists have been prevented from going to Laayoune to report on the events.

Western Sahara was annexed by Morocco after Spanish settlers withdrew in 1975, but the Polisario fought the Moroccan presence until the United Nations brokered a ceasefire in 1991.

© 2010 AFP

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