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Protests in Western Sahara against Moroccan violence

media The Grand Mosque in Dakhla Radoslaw Botev via Wikimedia Commons

Protesters gathered Saturday in the centre of Dakhla in the disputed territory of Western Sahara to protest against police inaction when Moroccan youths went on a violent rampage overnight. Witnesses told RFI that about 100 people were injured.

Saturday some 100 Sahraouis gathered in the centre of the city, many of them wielding sticks and stones, reports RFI’s Daniel Brown, who is in Dakhla, the second city in Western Sahara, which was annexed by Morocco in 1975.

RFI's Daniel Brown, Dakhla, Western Sahara 26/02/2011 - by Billie O'Kadameri Listen

Brown says protesters were “attacking anything that resembles officialdom”.

“I’ve seen a few police, but in the square itself there is no one. Most of them are about 100 meters away, hiding and observing and talking on their walkie-talkies,” says Brown.

Protesters are angry that police remained passive as youth went on a violent rampage overnight.

Brown said that a group of 300-400 youths “allegedly started a rampage, going into a neighbourhood where Sahraoui people live” at around 4am, after the end of a concert being put on by the Dakhla Music and Watersports Festival.

“They started using stones and sticks, attacking people in their houses,” says Brown. “According to the eyewitnesses that I talked to, something like 100 people have been injured.”

He says people are not going to the hospital for treatment because they are afraid. And there is concern of more attacks on Saturday night.

“People seem to be feeling that tonight they will be attacking again,” says Brown. “What they have been stressing is that last night they did see police that remained absolutely passive…They’re saying that the Moroccan officials from the north are not doing anything to stop [the violence].”

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