Moroccan police disperse protest

Moroccan police have injured several student demonstrators in Rabat who called for Western Sahara's independence.

    Morroco seized Western Sahara after Spanish rule in 1975

    Witnesses said bludgeon-wielding police raided a university campus in the capital on Friday to break up the protest held in solidarity with demonstrations in the territory's main city of Laayoune.
       
    A journalist saw five students being held at a police station near the campus and five policemen with head, chest and arms bandages. Blood stains were also visible on the policemen's shirts.
       
    A senior police officer at the station declined to provide any comment.
       
    Students protest

    About 80 students participated in the protest, chanting anti-Moroccan slogans before pelting policemen stationed in front of the campus with stones, the witnesses said.
       
    Thousands of students from the desert territory study in Moroccan universities, which had witnessed similar protests in
    the past. 
       

    "Around 100 policemen came in backup and raided the campus. We all had to run"

    Morrocan student

    "Around 100 policemen came in backup and raided the campus restaurant, rooms and other facilities. We all had to run," said
    one student, who asked to be identified only as HS.
       
    The protest follows reports by the official media of riots earlier this week in some suburbs of Laayoune by residents backing the Polisario Front claim for independence in the mineral-rich territory, largely under Morocco's control.
       
    Morroco's claim

    Algeria has traditionally backed the territory's independence movement based in southwestern Algeria. Claiming historic right to the vast territory, Morocco seized the Western Sahara after Spanish colonial power withdrew in 1975.
       
    The Polisario conducted a low-intensity guerrilla war until the United Nations negotiated a ceasefire in 1991, with the promise of holding a referendum to decide its fate.
       
    Disagreements over who is eligible to vote have prevented the referendum from taking place. 

    SOURCE: Reuters


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