The Polisario Front launches four rockets in the direction of the buffer zone of Guerguerat as tensions increase.
The independence Polisario Front of Western Sahara bombed the Guerguerat buffer zone under Moroccan control in the extreme south of the desert territory in an attack that Rabat describes as a “propaganda war”.
“The Sahrawi army launched four rockets in the direction of… Guerguerat”, on the border between Morocco and Mauritania, the Sahrawi press agency SPS said in a statement on Sunday, citing a military leader of the Sahrawi separatist forces.
Morocco launched a military operation on November 13 in the buffer zone of Guerguerat – in the extreme south of the former Spanish colony – to drive out a group of Sahrawi rebels who were blocking a transit route to neighboring Mauritania.
The SPS press release also reported attacks along the security wall that separates Sahrawi combatants from Moroccan forces in the vast expanse of desert.
A senior Moroccan official in Rabat told AFP news agency: “There was harassment shootings near the Guerguerat area, but it did not affect the national road, traffic was not disturbed. “
“It’s been part of a cycle of harassment for over three months,” he said.
“There is a will to create a propaganda war, a media war, on the existence of a war in the Sahara” but “the situation is normal”, he said.
Western Sahara is a disputed and divided former Spanish colony, mainly under the control of Morocco, where tensions with the Polisario Front have simmered since the 1970s.
In November, Morocco sent troops to a UN patrolled buffer zone to reopen a key road to Mauritania.
The Polisario responded by declaring a 1991 ceasefire null and void, arguing that the road did not exist when the truce was signed.
The two sides have since reportedly exchanged regular fire along the demarcation line.
The UN-backed ceasefire agreement was supposed to lead to a self-determination referendum. Morocco has offered autonomy but maintains that the territory is a sovereign part of the kingdom.
The negotiations conducted by the UN between Morocco and the Polisario, with Algeria and Mauritania as observers, have been suspended since March 2019.
The Polisario Front, which waged a war for Morocco’s independence from 1975 to 1991, said it was always ready to join UN negotiations over the territory’s future – but would not file arms.
“In the past, we put all our confidence in the international community and definitively put an end to our armed struggle”, declared Tuesday a senior Polisario security official, Sidi Ould Oukal. “We waited 30 years. Thirty years of broken promises, prevarication and untenable waiting. “
Ould Oukal insisted that the group was “open to any mediation”.
“But at the same time, we will continue the armed struggle, on the basis of past experiences,” he said.
For its part, Morocco’s position was strengthened last year by the American recognition of its sovereignty over the entire disputed territory, breaking decades of precedent.
The decision was taken under President Donald Trump in exchange for the normalization of its relations with Israel by Rabat.