- At least 60 people are reported to be injured and two missing during clashes between hundreds of Moroccans and Saharawis engaged in fishing in Itereft town, 100 kilometers from the city of Dakhla, the chairman of the Committee Against Torture in Dakhla, El Mami Amar Salem said.
The attack was said to be "the most serious aggression" against civilian Sahrawis by Moroccan protagonists in Western Sahara, an attacked which is alleged to have been perpetrated by the Moroccan occupying forces to expel the indigenous Sahrawis from the fishing industry at the productive Canarian-Sahara Bank.
According to a witness, Moroccan settlers engaged in local fisheries attacked the Sahrawi fishermen and traders with sticks, knives, diesel and several axes, burning at least seven vehicles of Sahrawi traders.
"Families of the wounded who had come to visit them outside the hospital Dakhla began shouting slogans in favour of Polisario Front and freedom for Sahara, provoking Moroccan police," reported a Sahrawi human rights activist from Dakhla.
"In addition, two of the Sahrawi victims that are still missing, could have been thrown into the sea," witnesses and their families fear.
Witnesses further claimed that at the head of the Moroccan police investigations into the violence was the alleged torturer Hariz Alarbi, currently under investigation by Judge Garzon of the Spanish National High Court. Dozens of troops from the Moroccan security forces have now been moved to Dakhla in anticipation of continued protests by Sahrawi civilians.
The unrest started as Sahrawi civilians had marched peacefully in Dakhla on 8 July, protesting aggressions by Moroccans on Sahrawi territory. The protest march led to numerous detentions, three of whom claim to have been tortured by Moroccan police.
In support of the detained, dozens of youths marched in the fishing village of La Chica "denouncing the policy of extermination and looting carried out by the Pasha of the area, Mr Mohamed Sadki, and their coreligionists corrupt traders who plunder these banks," according to the Committee Against Torture in Dakhla.
According to Sahrawi human rights activists, the head of Morocco's secret services in the area banned young Sahrawis from acceding the fishing banks, which are rich on octopuses, further inciting Moroccan settlers to revolt against the Sahrawis.
Moroccans have over 16,000 fishing boats, each carrying around four crew members, operating in the bank, and are selling their catches to 137 enterprises processing and canning fish in Dakhla. The entire fishing and canning industry along the coast of occupied Western Sahara is controlled by Moroccan capital and settlers.
Armed conflict between Morocco and Western Sahara's independence movement Polisario started in 1976, with the Moroccan occupation of the former Spanish colony, and ended with a UN-brokered ceasefire in 1991. Around one third of mostly uninhabited Saharawi lands - the interior part bordering Algeria and Mauritania - were left on Polisario's hands. The UN since 1991 has failed to produce a lasting peace agreement and an end to occupation.
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