Algeria Accuses Morocco of Bombing of Three Truck Drivers

Algeria has accused its arch-rival Morocco of killing three Algerians on a desert highway, as tensions escalate between the neighbours over contested Western Sahara.

A statement from the Algerian Presidency confirmed that “three Algerians were assassinated… in a barbaric strike on their trucks”,

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

The statement added that “several factors indicate that the Moroccan occupation forces in Western Sahara carried out this cowardly assassination with a sophisticated weapon,” “Their killings will not go unpunished.”

Western Sahara is 80 per cent controlled by Morocco, which sees the former Spanish colony, rich in phosphates and adjacent to bountiful Atlantic fishing waters, as an integral part of its own territory.

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Algeria has long hosted and supported the Polisario Front, which seeks full independence there and has demanded a referendum as provided for in a 1991 ceasefire deal.

But the Polisario in November declared the truce “null and void” after Moroccan forces broke up a blockade of a highway into Mauritania, that the independence movement said was built in violation of the ceasefire.

In August, Algeria broke off diplomatic ties with Morocco citing “hostile actions”

The reported killings took place on Monday, Akram Kharief, editor of Algerian website Mena Defense, said that “the Algerian truckers were killed in Bir Lahlou”, along a 3,500-kilometre (2,200-mile) highway that passes through part of Western Sahara controlled by the Polisario.

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The Algerian statement did not say what weapons were used, but Morocco in September took delivery of Turkish-made Bayraktar combat drones, according to Far-Maroc, a private military news website.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the situation in Western Sahara has “significantly deteriorated” over the past year.

On Friday, the UN Security Council called for renewed peace talks, in a resolution Algeria slammed as “fundamentally unbalanced”.

Algiers has rejected a return to roundtable talks last held in 2019 with top officials from Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Polisario.

It argues that by avoiding bilateral talks with the Polisario, Rabat was trying to portray the conflict as a “regional, artificial” one rather than one of “decolonization”.

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