7 dead in riot following soccer match in Morocco
RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Seven people were killed in a riot following a soccer match in Morocco’s disputed Western Sahara region, the state news agency reported Tuesday.
The riot in the town of Dakhla began after Mohammedia club Chebab, from just north of Casablanca, beat the local Mouloudia club 3-0 on Sunday. Three people died after being run over by vehicles and two of the others killed were policemen, state media quoted local officials as saying.
Rival fans began throwing stones at each other and then “criminals” took advantage of the chaos to attack people with knives and clubs, the Oued-Eddahab-Lagouira province said in a statement.
Initial reports said some 27 people wounded and vehicles and businesses were also torched. The rioting is under investigation.
Dakhla, which is 1,140 miles (1,830 kilometers) southwest of the capital of Rabat, is divided between original residents and those who arrived from the north following Morocco’s 1975 annexation of the Western Sahara. There have been frequent, deadly tensions between the two communities for years.
Morocco fought a Saharan independence movement known as the Polisario for 25 years until a UN-brokered cease-fire took effect in 1991. An eighth round of informal negotiations this summer in the United States failed to yield any progress. Morocco has offered wide autonomy to the mineral-rich Western Sahara but Polisario wants a referendum with independence as an option.
The Polisario on Tuesday condemned what it called the “wave of repression” by Moroccan authorities in Dakhla.
“The combined repressive actions of the occupation army and settlers leaves no doubts about the colonialist nature of Morocco’s presence in our country,” its foreign representative, Mohamed Salem Ould-Salek, said in a statement.