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Algeria blames Morocco for bombing citizens on Western Sahara border

Algeria has said that Moroccan bombardment killed three of its citizens in the border area between Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara and warned it would “not go unpunished”.

“Three Algerians were assassinated… in a barbaric strike on their trucks,” Algeria’s presidency said in a statement on Monday, quoted by APS news agency.

It reported they had been travelling between the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott and the Algerian city of Ouargla.

“Several elements point to the involvement of the Moroccan occupation forces in Western Sahara in the cowardly assassination,” the statement added.

Morocco made no immediate comment.

After images of a burnt-out vehicle circulated on social media on Tuesday, Mauritania said there had been no bombardment on its soil.

 

Disputed territory

The incident underscores the risks of escalation between the powerful North African rivals after months of deteriorating relations tied to the conflict in Western Sahara.

The Western Sahara is 80 percent controlled by Morocco, which sees the former Spanish colony as an integral part of its own territory.

Algeria is the host and main supporter of the Polisario Front, which seeks the independence of Western Sahara from Morocco.

Last year, after an incident near the border crossing between Western Sahara and Mauritania, the Polisario declared a resumption of its armed struggle against Morocco after a three-decade truce.

However, although the Polisario and Algerian media have reported attacks on Moroccan targets, Rabat says it continues to uphold the 1990 ceasefire and only engages in military action in response to attacks.

This year Algeria cut off ties with Morocco, accusing it of failing to live up to its obligations over Western Sahara and of backing a regional independence group inside Algeria.

It has also ended gas supplies and cut off its airspace to Moroccan aircraft.

Morocco called those accusations fallacious and absurd, says Algeria was unjustified in cutting ties, and says Algeria is the main party in the Western Sahara conflict.

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