Polisario says new fighting in W.Sahara

Algiers (AFP) –


The pro-independence Polisario Front said Saturday that clashes are continuing in the disputed Western Sahara after the Moroccan army launched an operation in the buffer zone on its southern border.

"Fighting is continuing after the crime committed by Moroccan troops in Guerguerat," senior Polisario official Mohamed Salem Ould Salek told AFP.

The ceasefire supervised by the United Nations since 1991 is a "thing of the past", added Ould Salek, who serves as foreign minister of the Polisario-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).

On Friday, Morocco announced that its troops had launched an operation to reopen the final section of the highway through Western Sahara to Mauritania by extending its network of defensive walls.

Dozens of truck drivers have been stranded for days at Guerguerat, the last Moroccan-held stop before the road enters a buffer zone along the border where the Polisario has maintained a periodic presence.

A communique issued by the SADR defence ministry late Friday said Sahrawi forces had carried out "massive attacks" during the afternoon at multiple points along Morocco's 2,700 kilometre (1,700 mile) long defensive wall.

It said they had inflicted "human and material damage on the enemy" but did not elaborate.

There was no immediate independent verification of the defence ministry's claim.

For its part, the Moroccan army general staff declared late Friday that "the Guerguerat crossing between Morocco and Mauritania has now been fully made safe by the installation of a security cordon by the Royal Armed Forces."

It made no mention of any attacks elsewhere along its desert wall.