Talks between Algeria and Morocco have been broken off.The negotiators returned home on Thursday (17?
Talks between Algeria and Morocco have been broken off.The negotiators returned home on Thursday (17 October), amid confused reports of fighting at two frontier posts.
The military base at Colomb-Bechar is the closest Algerian base to the fighting, being 300 miles northwest of the frontier post at Tinjoub.As headquarters of the Algerian Sahara Command, the city was reported to be the scene of a massive build-up of troops and equipment.Few signs of that build-up have been evident, however.Small detachments of soldiers can be seen drilling, and other small detachments roll through the streets on trucks.Some anti-aircraft artillery has been installed on important buildings.
The large numbers of Algerian civilians who answered Premier Ahmed Ben Bella's call for a general mobilization and enlisted in the "people's militia" have been told to return to their jobs until summoned.Apparently none of them actually reported to Colomb-Bechar, and a directive has been sent there ordering that only trained soldiers be sent to the fighting area.
Meanwhile, the prefect of Colomb-Bechar said on Thursday that Algerian troops have been pulled back from the two outposts after four days of fighting.Four hundred Algerians, he said, are engaged north of the road linking Colomb-Bechar and Tinjoub.Only four casualties have been sustained by the Algerian forces so far, said the prefect, and the fighting has consisted largely of long-range firing.