GUERGUERAT, 27 January 2021 – Fighters for the Polisario Front which seeks independence for the Western Sahara say they have bombarded Moroccan positions in the Guerguerat buffer zone.
The zone is situated between Morocco and Mauritania and is under Moroccan occupation and contested by Polisario Front as part of the Sahara Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
“The Saharawi army launched four rockets in the direction of… Guerguerat,” the Saharawi press agency (SPS) said in a statement, citing a military leader of the separatist Saharawi forces.
The statement also alleged that attacks were also launched against Moroccan soldiers stationed along the security wall that separates Saharawi fighters from Moroccan forces.
Rabat dismissed the claims of attacks and bombardment, describing the entire announcement as part of a “propaganda war”.
“There was harassing fire near the area of Guerguerat, but it did not affect the trunk road, traffic was not disrupted,” theFrench News Agency (AFP) has reported, citing a senior Moroccan military official.
Last November, Moroccan forces launched an operation in the Guerguerat buffer zone reportedly to clear pro-independence protesters who had sealed off the road connection Morocco to sub-Saharan Africa.
Most of the territory of the former Spanish Western Sahara is under Moroccan occupation and since the 1970s.
The Polisario Front waged an independence war against Morocco from 1975 to 1991, seeking to set up an independent African country known as the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
A United Nations-backed ceasefire has been in force in Western Sahara since 1991 but when Morocco launched the operation reportedly “to clear the highway”, Polisario said it constituted a violation of the ceasefire.
The already high tensions have been made worse by the deal late last year by former US President Donald Trump recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara and the iopening of consulates there by a number of countries.
Negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations involving Morocco and the Polisario Front, with Algeria and Mauritania participating as observers, have not resumed since they were suspended in March 2019.
Polisario has said it is tired of waiting 30 years for the United Nations to honor a promise it gave three decades ago to organize an independence referendum.
While open to mediation, the Polisario Front says they will keep up the armed struggle, based on past experience.