A purported clandestine military operation by Western Saharan separatists and Algerian soldiers has allegedly been foiled by Moroccan authorities.
Morocco’s military arrested six Algerian army officers and an unspecified number of Polisario Front seperatists last week in a Moroccan-controlled area of Western Sahara, according to Arabic-language newspaper Assabah.
The soldiers and seperatists were allegedly apprehended while attempting to set up a clandestine military presence in the area.
According to the same source, Moroccan authorities were alerted after observing suspicious activity along the Mauritanian border. This also prompted the North African kingdom to launch a sizeable military excercise.
Those arrested, among whom was allegedly a senior Algerian officer, had their weapons and vehicles seized. This included jeeps, machine guns and light firearms.
The incident reportedly passed without an exchange of fire from either side, with some of the detainees later being released after an investigation.
In August, Moroccan authoroties launched a sweeping initiative to clear southern Saharan provinces of “illegal” commercial activities. The kingdom has accused the Polisario of engaging in cross-border drug smuggling, that allegedly implicates associates of the group’s leadership.
The conflict over Western Sahara has put Morocco at odds with its neighbour Algeria, which has supported the Polisario Front. Due to this tension, borders between the two nations have been closed for 34 years in the last four decades.