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Dozens injured in Casablanca protest

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Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-03-14

Dozens of protesters were wounded on Sunday after police dispersed a pro-reform protest in Casablanca, Morocco's largest city. The violence comes on the heels of King Mohammed VI's promises of sweeping democratic reforms.

AFP - Dozens of protesters were injured, some seriously, Sunday during a clash with security forces who tried to storm the headquarters of a left-wing party in Casablanca, witnesses and and reporters said.

The protesters had sought refuge in the offices of the Unified Socialist Party (PSU) after the security forces broke up a peaceful demonstration calling for political reforms.

A violent confrontation ensued during which a reporter said he witnessed police beating a pregnant woman and some young girls. "It was unusually violent," he said.

"We were meeting in the political office and were about to publish a communique praising the king's speech last Wednesday when the security forces tried to break in," Mohamed Bouaziz, a PSU leader, told AFP.

"The Casablanca governor gave the order," he said. "I consider this a serious political mistake and an action directed against His Majesty (King Mohammed VI), who promised to strengthen individual freedoms."

Earlier, security forces sealed off Mohammed V Square, the site of most demonstrations in the city, and forcefully kept protesters and pedestrians away, an AFP journalist and witnesses said.

The activists were from the Islamist Justice and Charity movement, which is banned but tolerated in Morocco and is one of the north African country's most important political parties.

King Mohammed VI on Wednesday announced sweeping democratic reforms including an elected prime minister and broader personal freedoms in his first speech to the nation since demonstrations on February 20 calling for democratisation and less corruption.

The Moroccan press on Friday described the promised reforms, announced amid popular uprisings rocking the Arab world, as "historic" while speculating over the future of some members of the king's entourage.
 

Date created : 2011-03-13

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