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Spain demands answers from Morocco on arrests

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Spain demands answers from Morocco on arrests
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Spain has called on Morocco to explain why it detained 11 Spanish activists during a pro-independence rally in western Sahara.

Moroccan police arrested the 11 from the SaharAcciones association on Saturday in Laayoune.

The Canary Islands-based group accused officers of “savagely attacking” them during the demonstration, before arresting them and driving them to the police station.

“When I unveiled the Saharan flag, dozens of men dressed in civilian clothes jumped on us and hit us. They pushed us to the floor and kicked us and punched us. The injuries you can see on my face were the result of the attack by Moroccan police dressed as civilians,” said one of the activist.

The Western Sahara is a former Spanish colony that was annexed by Morocco in 1975.

The Algerian-backed Polisario Front is demanding independence for the region

The Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said: “Maybe some disagree but it is an essential principle of my government’s foreign policy to maintain a good relationship with neighbouring countries like Morocco.”

The Polisario Front laid down its arms in a 1991 truce.

It rejects Moroccan proposals for self-government and wants a referendum on full independence.