Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sahrawi Students Intifada In University Campus in Rabat and the AP journalist detained briefly at the scene

Getting closer....

¶ RABAT, Morocco (AP) _ Moroccan riot police wielding truncheons clashed Thursday with stone-throwing students demanding independence for Western Sahara.¶ Saharawi students have staged a sit-in since Monday at Mohamed V university in the capital, Rabat. ¶ Early Thursday morning, police surprised sleeping students, beating them with truncheons as they camped out before the gate of a student housing complex, said Slimane, who asked that his surname not be printed because he feared reprisals. ¶ Students pointed to red stains on the pavement that they said were blood from three injured students. They said police arrested 10 students, bundling them into vans while still wrapped in blankets. Police took money and mobile phones from students, Slimane added. ¶ Police then blockaded an avenue running in front of the housing complex. In mid-morning, around 60 riot police wielding truncheons charged some 50 Saharawi students who had remained at the scene. The students retaliated by throwing stones before scattering as police chased them through university grounds. ¶ Police officials at the university refused to comment on their actions or the alleged arrests.¶ Five plainclothes officers detained an Associated Press reporter as he was taking photographs of riot police. Police held the reporter in a guard hut for about 15 minutes before releasing him. ¶ By noon, police had occupied the housing complex and posted guards to seal the entrance. The residue of violence was visible through the gate _ broken windows, overturned makeshift barricades of tables and chairs, and stones thrown by the students. ¶ Police and Saharawi students also clashed this week at Hassan II university in Casablanca, Morocco's commercial center and largest city, students there said.¶ Morocco took over Western Sahara in 1975 after Spain, the colonial power, withdrew. The Algerian-backed independence movement the Polisario Front resisted until a U.N. brokered cease-fire in 1991.¶ Most Saharawis favor independence and stage regular demonstrations, which police often put down.¶ Morocco has rejected a referendum but said it will hold talks with the Polisario Front on Western Sahara's future under U.N. auspices. No date for the talks has yet been s

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