the Polisario bombs an area controlled by Rabat, threatens to ‘escalate

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The separatists of the Polisario Front threatened Morocco on Sunday with a military “escalation” after having bombed the Guerguerat border post under Moroccan control in the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

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The war will continue and escalate. All positions of the Moroccan army are targets,” Sidi Ould Oukal, a senior security official and defense ministry spokesman, told AFP of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), proclaimed in 1976 by the separatists.

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The Polisario says it is “in a state of war of self-defense” since Morocco sent troops to the far south of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, on November 13 to drive out a group of Sahrawi militants who were blocking the only road to neighboring Mauritania.

Moroccan troops have since remained deployed in this demilitarized zone placed under the tutelage of a UN interposition force, in order to “secure road traffic” on this commercial axis leading to West Africa.

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The separatists contest the legality of this axis – qualified as an “illegal breach” – contrary to the 1991 ceasefire agreement signed under the aegis of the UN.

Saturday evening, the Polisario forces announced that they had launched four missiles in the direction of Guerguerat, a locality located on the road. They also claimed responsibility for attacks along the sand wall erected by Morocco which separates Sahrawi fighters from Moroccan forces in this vast desert territory disputed since the departure of the Spanish settlers.

– “normal situation” –

According to Mr. Ould Oukal, the Guerguerat crossing has been “closed” and the situation is “chaotic”. However, these claims could not be confirmed from an independent source.

“This is only the beginning. It is a warning to users of this road and this land.

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The whole territory of Western Sahara is a war zone,” he warned, warning that “neither Guerguerat, nor any point in Saharawi territory, is safe from missiles and shells from Saharawi combatants “.

A senior Moroccan official contacted by AFP in Rabat downplayed, reporting “harassment shots near the Guerguerat area”, which “did not affect the road.

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The traffic was not disturbed”.

“It has been part of a cycle of harassment for more than three months” and “there is a desire to create a propaganda war, a media war, on the existence of a war in the Sahara”, but “the situation is normal “, he assured.

Moroccan television 2M broadcast a report with images and testimonies of truckers collected Sunday in the area of ​​Guerguerat.

“This morning, the traffic on the road axis between Morocco and Mauritania is normal. Commercial traffic has not stopped” since the Moroccan intervention in November, he said in the report.

– Procrastination –

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The question of the status of Western Sahara, considered as a “non-autonomous territory” by the UN in the absence of a definitive settlement, has opposed Morocco to the Polisario for decades.

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The latter calls for a self-determination referendum planned by the UN, while Morocco, which controls more than two thirds of the territory, proposes an autonomy plan under its sovereignty.

Negotiations led by the UN and involving Morocco and the Polisario, with Algeria and Mauritania as observers, have been suspended since 2019.

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The Polisario says it is ready to resume talks but excludes laying down its arms, scalded by 30 years of status quo.

“In the past, we have placed all our confidence in the international community and stopped the armed combat definitively. We have waited 30 years. Thirty years of broken promises, of procrastination and untenable waiting,” lamented more early this week Sidi Ould Oukal.

Morocco’s position was reinforced by the recognition by former US President Donald of Moroccan sovereignty over the entire disputed territory.

This recognition linked to normalization between Morocco and Israel is accompanied by an envelope of three billion dollars (2.4 billion euros) for “financial and technical support for private investment projects” in Morocco and Africa. sub-Saharan.

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