7 dead in riot following soccer match in Morocco

Rabat (Morocco): Seven people were killed in a riot following a soccer match in Morocco`s disputed Western Sahara region, the state news agency reported on 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, a statement from the Oued-Eddahab-Lagouira province said.

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 tensions between the two communities. In February, northerners in Dakhla attacked people elsewhere in the city. There were similar riots in 1999.

Deadly riots also broke out in November in the Saharan town of Laayoune, to the north, when Moroccan police moved against a protest camp.

Morocco fought a Saharan independence movement known as the Polisario for 25 years until a UN-brokered ceasefire 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.

Bureau Report

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