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Western Sahara rebels demand UN probe into deadly squatter camp raid

The main Western Sahara rebel group, the Polisario Front, threatened Monday to withdraw from peace talks with Morocco if the UN does not investigate a Nov. 8 police raid on a squatter encampment in a disputed area that left 12 people dead.

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AFP - The main Western Sahara rebel group said Monday it would withdraw from peace talks with Morocco if the UN Security Council does not carry out an investigation into a Moroccan police raid on a squatter camp in the disputed territory.

The UN Security Council is to hold consultations on Western Sahara on Tuesday following the raid in which Morocco said 12 people died but the Polisario Front said dozens were killed.

"I handed over a letter making this demand to the president of the UN Security Council," the Polisario Front envoy to the UN, Ahmed Bujari, told AFP. "We must uncover all the truth about what happened.

"We fear we will never find out what really happened. The only way is a mission to establish the facts. If there is none, we cannot continue to negotiate as if nothing happened. We have the right to the truth," Bujari said.

The raid on the camp near the main town of Laayoune was carried out on November 8 a few hours before a new round of talks between the Polisario and the Moroccan government started near New York.

The New York talks went ahead despite the violence and the two sides agreed to meet again next month.

Western Sahara was annexed by Morocco after Spain withdrew in 1975, but the Polisario fought the Moroccan presence until the United Nations brokered a ceasefire in 1991.

In the letter, the Polisario said, "After decades of delay and obstruction, it is time for the Security Council to insist upon a deadline to resolve this dispute.

"If there is no progress within a short period, the Frente Polisario will be forced to reconsider its position vis-a-vis the entire process.

"If the UN fails to fulfill its own repeated promises to resolve the dispute and fails to protect our people, we will be obliged to do so ourselves," the letter warned.
 

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