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29 SEPT '99



Patricia Tomé, UN MINURSO spokesperson in El Ayoun, Western Sahara, said yesterday that "protesters threw stones, set cars afire and smashed shop windows to protest against Moroccan police's use of violence in dispersing a peaceful sit-in last week". Around 200 people clashed with the police on Monday (27.09.) but the campaign beleives demonstartions are continuing.

The United Nations confirmed that demonstartors were violently dispersed on 23 September, after twelve days of protest, outside a hotel accomodating United Nations MINURSO personnel.

The Campaign has received the mames of three dead. One source suggests five people are believed to have been killed and twelve injured following the sit-in. Reports suggest forty people were in jured by the Moroccan forces, some with gun shot wounds.

Saharawis are being held incomminicado and others are reported to have been refused medical treatment following the sit-in.

Demonstrators erected six tents in the administrative center of El Ayoun beginning on 8 September. Former workers from the Fos Bou Craa phosphate company were protesting at being sacked and replaced by Moroccan workers.

It is understood that seventy-five people demonstrated in Tan-Tan a Moroccan town bordering Western sahara on the 17 September. Several people were said to have been slightly injured.

In Smara, Western Sahara's second city, 220 kilometers to the East of El Ayoun demonstrations were also reported. A curfew may be in place. No foreign NGOs are present in Western Sahara.

These reports are in stark contrats 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 managed with an iron fist, in the future it will be managed with silk gloves".

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.

See BBC TV Correspondent Special 2 October 1845 hrs

See: http://www.arso.org/ - tel : +44 113 245 4786 / 250 8353

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