Moroccan security forces dispersed a protest camp early in Western Sahara that had been the scene of the biggest anti-government demonstration in decades in the disputed territory.
Security forces took the action hours before UN-mediated talks were scheduled to start near New York to try to end the stalemate over Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony which was annexed by Morocco in 1975.
A Moroccan security official told Reuters that security forces obtained a court order to move in because some activists were forcing people to stay in the camp, near the city of Laayoune, against their will, Reuters reports.
“There are a few people slightly wounded on both sides and the camp is now clear of people,” said the official, who did not want to be identified.
But one of the activists involved in the protest said there were many wounded and that security forces used teargas and batons to clear the camp.
“The situation was very dire. They attacked people inside the camp: women and children and the elderly,” the activist told Reuters by telephone. “We defended ourselves by throwing stones at security forces as they stormed the camp.”