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Violence marks start of Western Sahara talks

Violence marks start of Western Sahara talks
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Reports suggest that 17 people may have been killed in a raid by Moroccan forces on a protest camp in the disputed Western Sahara.

Morocco sent in the troops in the early hours of Monday to clear out the camp, close to Laayoune, which is home to some 12,000 people. The violence was some of the worst in years in Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony annexed by Morocco in 1975.

The region is the subject of a bitter dispute between Rabat and the pro-independence Polisario Front. The Polisario Front waged war against Moroccan rule until a UN-brokered ceasefire in 1991.

The eruption of violence heralded the beginning of UN hosted talks between the two sides in New York. Both sides have hurled blame at one another with the Polisario Front claiming soldiers killed 11 of their people, while Morocco says five of their officers were stabbed to death.