Polisario guerrillas fighting for an independent homeland in the Western Sahara displayed on Tuesday (15 January) the latest batch of Weapons and prisoners seized from the Moroccan army.
GV PAN OVER Captured weapons viewed by journalists
SV Machineguns and newsmen looking and PAN TO Tanks (2 shots)
SV Field guns mounted on Land Rovers (2 shots)
SV Rocket launchers (2 shots)
SV Heavy field guns (3 shots)
CU PAN ALONG Land mines
GV Rifles stuck in ground with newsmen in background
SV PAN ALONG Tank and boxes of ammunition
SV PAN FROM Scout car reversing to heavy tank moving along the sand
CU Anti-tank shells and anti tank guns (2 shots)
SV PAN OVER Wreckage of fighter aircraft, with trucks in background (3 shots)
SV Pilot with objector seat and parachute on ground (3 shots)
TV Boxes of files and documents
GV Captured prisoners and newsmen (2 shots)
SV PAN ALONG Prisoners sitting in group (2 shots)
SV Group of deserters (3 shots)
SV Newsmen talking to deserters
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Polisario guerrillas fighting for an independent homeland in the Western Sahara displayed on Tuesday (15 January) the latest batch of Weapons and prisoners seized from the Moroccan army. The group has vowed to intensify the five year old war throughout 1980, unless there is a diplomatic breakthrough.
SYNOPSIS: The Polisario Front is said to have some of the toughest guerrilla desert fighters in the world. And from their Algerian based camps, they've been proving that regularly--particularly since Mauritania signed a peace treaty with them--and to all intents and purposes ceded the Western Sahara. This is some of the equipment they've captured in just a few weeks from the well-equipped Moroccans.
The Polisario claims to have captured some five hundred army vehicles. Many are Land Rovers carrying machine guns, rocket launchers and machineguns. They're fast-moving strike vehicles important to the Polisario. In a desert war, versatility and speed beat the heavy field guns.
The Moroccans are now matching the guerrillas with small, highly mobile units of their own, laying land mines and setting ambushes.
The Polisario is armed mostly with Chinese and Soviet-made weapons supplied, for the most part, through supporters in Algeria. The Front claims to be better equipped than its Moroccan army adversaries. Despite that, and despite the desert war going in their favour, the nomad guerrillas are no closer to victory than they were almost four years ago when a tripartite agreement divided the former Spanish colony between Mauritania and Morocco.
The Polisario claims to have destroyed several Moroccan aircraft during 1979. This was once a French-made Mirage F-One fighter-bomber--the Moroccan pilot escaped, using the ejector seat. Aircraft--both Mirages and the American made F-Five's--are a problem for the guerrillas. The elimination of one is a prize indeed.
Polisario chief, Omar Hadrani, says the organisation has already called on France and the United States to stop sanding arms to Morocco--a move they say which will help bring an early and to the conflict.
Mr. Hadrani says the Polisario has captured fifteen hundred Moroccan prisoners during the past twelve months--and killed six-thousand eight-hundred Moroccans during the same period. The Polisario claims some of these men are Moroccan Army deserters. And without linking their next demand to that claim, they've appealed to the Organisation of African Unity to recognise their Sahara Arab Democratic Republic government, already operating in exile from Algiers. In Morocco, the high cost of the war has even triggered public sector protest strikes. The Rabat government admits the war is costing Morocco five-million dollars a day.