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27.SEPT '99




Two sources reporting from Western Sahara independently confirmed that violent repression of Western Saharan demonstrators took place on the 23 September in El Ayoun, Western Sahara.

One source believes that five Saharawi people have been killed by the Moroccan occupying forces including a Saharawi woman, HAFIDHA BOUCHELGUA, and an elder named with the family name of SKAIHIL. The Moroccan Government has denied that any Saharawis died during the demonstrations.

According to the source, former employees from Fos BouCraa phosphate company were protesting at being sacked and replaced by Moroccan workers.

The Western Sahara Campaign has been unable to contact the United Nations Mission in El Ayoun as telephone lines were believed to have been cut.

The whereabouts of scores, possibly hundreds of demonstrators, is currently unknown but it is beleived some are being held in the Mobile Company of Intervention detention centre, a warehouse on Smara Street El Ayoun.

These reports are in stark contrast to comments by a source close to King Mohamed VI marking the opening of a new the Royal Commission on Saharawi Affairs. The source said:

"If up until now the conflict in Western Sahara has been manged with an iron fist, in the future it will be managed with silk gloves".

When the Campaign tried to telephone the United Nations in El Ayoun, it appears the lines are down. One report suggest a curfew is in place. However both Al Mounaddama, a Moroccan daily, and the Spanish El Mundo newspaper cite reports and testimonies of Saharawis living in El Ayoun about these events.

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