Now that the last Spanish troops have left the Western Sahara, Moroccan and Mauritanian armies are ranging over the vast desert, hunting down guerrillas who are trying to stop them taking it over.
GV (MUTE) Mauritanian forces advancing across desert, throwing hand grenades.
LV AND CU Advance continues. Soldiers laying prone beside bushes. (3 shots)
GV AND SV Advance continues. (5 shots)
CU Mortar fire, observer watches. (3 shots)
CU Machine gun fires.
LV Forward troops throw hand grenades.
Abandoned Spanish land rovers. (2 shots)
LV ND SV Toureg tribesmen's tents, women standing. (2 shots)
Mauritanian flag raised.
CU AND SV Toureg tribesmen and women with children chanting and clapping. (4 shots)
SV Mauritanian forces keeping watch from rooftop (2 shots)
GV PAN Town of Villa Cineros (now Dakia)
SV People in street. (2 shots)
SV AND LV PAN Old residence of Spanish Governor General with flag flying over. (2 shots)
SV AND CU Toureg women.
SV AND CU Men seated holding Mauritanian flag and portraits of Ould Daddah. (2 shots)
CU Mauritanian troops march into airport.
SV AND CU Troops lined up at airport with sign Villa Cineros in background. (2 shots)
SV AND CU Officials arrive and shake hands with troops at airport. (2 shots)
Initials VS 18.40 VS 19.00
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Background: Now that the last Spanish troops have left the Western Sahara, Moroccan and Mauritanian armies are ranging over the vast desert, hunting down guerrillas who are trying to stop them taking it over.
Neighbouring Algeria and guerrillas of the Polisario Front want independence for the stretch of desert with its population of only 74,000. But Spain has agreed to evacuate the colony in favour of Morocco and Mauritania and they are determined to establish their sovereignty over it.
The anti-guerrilla campaign was intensified late this month in an effort to eliminate the last pockets of resistance. These operations are conducted from the main towns of El Aaiun, Smara and Dakhla and from desert outposts manned by some 10,000 Moroccan and a small number of Mauritanian soldiers.
In this film an incident is shown at the village of Tichla when Mauritanian troops advanced on the village and flushed out guerrillas with hand grenades and mortar fire.
Meanwhile, the Algerian-backed Polisario Front claims to have killed more than 200 Mauritanian troops in a battle at the Mauritanian camp at Ain Ben Tili close to the border with the Western Sahara. The Polisario also claims to have inflicted heavy casualties in men and materials on the Moroccans. But the Moroccans say their losses have been light and they consider the guerrillas as little more than a nuisance.
However, the problem is complicated by the risk of armed intervention by neighbouring Algeria, which is assailing the takeover on the grounds that it is a "violation of the sacred principle of self-determination."
Morocco is heavily out-gunned by Algeria which increased its defence budget by 20 per cent this year and is reported to have massed Soviet-supplied armour, artillery, aircraft and missiles along the Moroccan frontier.
The Algerian News Agency APS reported on Tuesday (27 January) that Moroccan forces attacked an Algerian army unit transporting food and medicines to the people of Western Sahara. A fierce clash was reported as being underway.
It would be the first direct encounter between Moroccan and Algerian forces since tension mounted between the neighbouring countries over the future of the phosphate-rich desert territory late last year. It was also the first time an Algerian army unit was officially reported to be in the Western Sahara.
With Spain's assistance, Morocco and Mauritania have set up an interim administration and are running the area as if it were already an integral part of their national territories.
By the end of February the interim administration will be replaced by effective co-sovereignty until the two countries decide on how to partition the territory between them.
The film shows the handing over of the town of Dakia, formerly villa Cineros, by Spanish officials to Mauritanian troops. The people of the town appeared pleased with the change and carried posters of Mauritanian leader Ould Daddah.