Polisario Front guerrillas -- fighting the bloodiest battle in their three-year war against Morocco -- say they are still prepared to negotiate on the future of the Western Sahara.
MV: Polisario Front Representative M. Lameline speaking in French.
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Background: Polisario Front guerrillas -- fighting the bloodiest battle in their three-year war against Morocco -- say they are still prepared to negotiate on the future of the Western Sahara. A Polisario Front spokesman said on Tuesday (9 October) that its guerrillas had killed more than one thousand two hundred Moroccans at the garrison town of Smara since the fighting began on Friday night (5 October). The Moroccans, on the other hand, maintain that more than a thousand Polisario guerrillas had been killed, for the loss of 121 of their own troops. The Polisario Front said on Tuesday that the battle was still raging around Smara -- the Western Sahara's second largest town.
SYNOPSIS: A Polisario representative, Monsieur Lameline, told newsmen that the Front was determined to fight until independence was secured for the people of the Western Sahara.
Monsieur Lameline said the fighting around the town of Smara was an example of the determination of the Polisari Front guerrillas. Although outnumbered by Moroccan troops, he claimed that the guerrillas succeeded in occupying the town and freeing about a thousand Algerian prisoners who had been imprisoned by the occupying troops.
The Western Sahara was ceded by Spain to both Morocco and Mauritania in 1976. But Mauritania made peace with the Polisario guerrillas earlier this year, and Morocco annexed the entire territory. The war has been going on for three years. But the latest battle for Smara is the bloodiest so far -- according to figures given by both sides.
The Front said there were four thousand Moroccan troops at the Smara garrison when the fighting began -- and more than a quarter were killed in the battle. The town forms an important part of Morocco's defence triangle in the former Spanish colony. Monsieur Lameline claimed that in the Smara battle, Polisario guerrillas had destroyed Moroccan troop barracks, the town's airport and three Moroccan planes.