INTRODUCTION: In the continuing war in the Western Sahara, the Polisario Front has celebrated the fifth anniversary of its declaration of an independent state with a military parade and the display of captured Moroccan troops.
GV Military parade
GV Polisario Secretary General taking salute (with turban)
GV Military Parade
SV Secretary General watching
GV Artillery being towed past
GV Polisario flag
GV Crowds watch and wave flags (3 shots)
GV Children in sports teams parade with balls
GV Prisoners stand in line (4 shots)
GV & SV Shot down Moroccon aircraft (3 shots)
GV Armoured vehicles
GV Rows of heavy machine guns
GV Photographs of war dead mounted on boards (2 shots)
GV Field guns and army lorries (2 shots)
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Background: INTRODUCTION: In the continuing war in the Western Sahara, the Polisario Front has celebrated the fifth anniversary of its declaration of an independent state with a military parade and the display of captured Moroccan troops. The Front has been locked in battle with the Moroccans, ever since the area was taken over on the orders of King Hassan when Spain evacuated its former colony in 1975.
SYNOPSIS: It was the kind of military parade that might have been held by an established Government. Troops, trucks and heavy weaponry were all on display. Taking the salute was Polisario's Secretary General Mr Mohamed Abdelaziz. He has guided Polisario since it began fighting five years ago. It's a war that has become increasingly bitter and tough for Morocco, which has had to commit tens of thousands of its troops to fight the desert war.
The Front's weaponry has improved since its early days...and the Saharan flag symbolised the claims to statehood.
It was all held well away from the threat of Moroccon guns -- in the Algerian town of Tindouf. And the day had a festive spirit, with crowds waving flags and cheering the march-past. Children helped to make the celebrations a day to remember. Members of youthful sports teams joined the parade, apparently part of an attempt to show that Polisario represents ordinary people with other interests besides fighting.
The Polisario Front has made frequent claims of military success and has taken journalists on long tours of land said to be liberated from Moroccan rule. These captured Moroccan troops gave some credibility to Polisario's claims. They had been sent South to bolster King Hassan's rule of the phosphate-rich desert and had the dispirited look typical of prisoners of war. Also on display were remains of Moroccan aircraft shot down in the war.
Few observers doubt Polisario's ability to continue fighting. But driving the Moroccans from the Western Sahara is something else. Recently the emphasis has moved to the conference chamber, with informal meetings between Morocco and Algeria, which backs the guerrillas. Polisario has been seeking wider support at the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity. Meanwhile the bitter fighting continues.