Exchange of fire between the Moroccan army and the Polisario Front in Western Sahara

The Moroccan army “responded to harassment shots fired by the Polisario (Front) militiamen along the defense line” that separates the two sides in Western Sahara, a disputed territory under tension for a few days, according to the Moroccan MAP agency citing an unofficial military forum.

“Since November 13, 2020, the Polisario militiamen have fired harassing shots along the defense line without causing human or material damage near the town of El Mahbes (north),” MAP said, citing the Facebook page of the “Forum FAR-Maroc”, the royal armed forces.

The Polisario Front, a Sahrawi independence movement supported by Algeria, said on Sunday that “fighting” continued along the 2,700 km Moroccan defense wall that runs through Western Sahara. He also claimed to have mobilized “thousands of volunteers.”

Morocco launched a military operation in the Guergerat buffer zone on Friday to reopen the road leading to neighboring Mauritania, after a three-week blockade. Traffic was reopened on Saturday.

In reaction, the Polisario Front decreed “a state of war” and the end of the ceasefire signed in 1991 under the auspices of the UN.

Vast desert expanse of 266,000 km2 that borders the Atlantic coast to the north of Mauritania, Western Sahara is the only territory on the African continent whose post-colonial status has not been resolved.

After the departure of the Spanish colonial power in 1975, Morocco took control of two thirds of this territory, which it considers to be an integral part of the kingdom. Backed by Algeria, the Polisario controls the other third.

Rabat proposes autonomy under its sovereignty, while the Polisario Front demands a self-determination referendum foreseen by the 1991 agreement but which has never been carried out.

sof / hj / mar / zm