In North Africa, an attack by Polisario guerrillas on a Mauritanian iron ore train appears to have been beaten back.
In North Africa, an attack by Polisario guerrillas on a Mauritanian iron ore train appears to have been beaten back. According to official sources, at least 58 men were killed, most of them guerrillas.
SYNOPSIS: The Mauritanian sources said the guerrillas attacked out of the desert in a column of about fifty trucks. But they were intercepted by a combined ground and air attack by government forces. An earlier government communique has said 120 trucks were involved.
The guerrillas who escaped from their vehicles when the government forces hit, had no choice but to try to run for it across the desert. The trucks turned into blazing coffins for any men who were left behind.
The attack on the train came only days after the line had been reopened following earlier guerrilla attacks. The vital railway, linking the mining centre of Zouerate with the coast, has been closed for two months.
The Mauritanian sources claimed 41 guerrillas had been killed, but only 17 Mauritanian troops. The fighting lasted for at least three days. The Mauritanians also claim the guerrillas lost 15 vehicles, burned out or captured by the government forces.
An important load of weapons and ammunition including mortar shells, was said to have been captured. The losses are a setback to the Polisario, who with Algerian support, are trying to create an independent state in the former Spanish Sahara. According to the Mauritanians, the guerrillas will shortly be facing even tougher opposition.