For the past three decades, Morocco has maintained control over 80% of the resource-rich North African desert territory. However, tensions have risen since the Algeria-backed Polisario Front launched their armed struggle for independence.
On Sunday, four explosions occurred in Smara, a city located in the Morocco-controlled section of Western Sahara. Local authorities reported that one person was killed and three others injured, while two houses were damaged in the blasts. The AFP news agency stated that the explosions took place in three different neighborhoods of Smara.
Unverified images circulating on social media depict a partially collapsed roof of an empty house and scattered metal debris, potentially related to the incident.
In response, the judicial police initiated an investigation to determine the origin and nature of the projectiles that were used in the attack. Morocco’s attorney general has assigned an investigation team to conduct technical and ballistic expertise to identify the source of the attack, as quoted by the country’s MAP news agency.
Western Sahara, situated in North Africa, has experienced ongoing conflicts since 1975 when Spain withdrew from the territory. This withdrawal sparked a 15-year war between the Algeria-backed Polisario Front and Morocco, both vying for control over the region.
After a cease-fire agreement in 1991, Morocco gained control over 80% of the desert region, while the Polisario, representing the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, retained control over the remaining territory, with aspirations for an independent state. While Morocco has proposed autonomy as a political solution, the Polisario Front continues to advocate for independence.
In recent developments, Polisario announced in November 2020 that it had resumed its armed struggle. The United Nations has described the fighting as “low intensity,” mostly concentrated in the uninhabited eastern part of the security wall constructed by Morocco. The UN Security Council has called on both parties to seek a mutually acceptable resolution to the conflict.
On Thursday, the Polisario Front claimed to have targeted strongholds of Moroccan occupation forces near Hanka Houria in the Smara region. They emphasized that the Sahrawi army remained engaged in ongoing attacks against Moroccan forces, resulting in significant human and material losses. The security wall, built by Morocco in the 1980s, spans over 2,700 kilometers (around 1,677 miles) and serves as a physical barrier dividing the Morocco-controlled section of Western Sahara from the area considered “liberated” by the Polisario.
Please note that the following content may require verification, as the events mentioned have not been independently confirmed at this time.