The Polisario Front, which is fighting for the independence of the Western Sahara, has restated its demand that Mauritania withdraw its forces from the disputed region in return for the release of six French people seized by the Polisario Front in a raid on May 1.
SV INTERIOR Polisario Front officials ZOOM IN TO Sid Ahmed Ould Mahmoud speaking in Arabic as reporters take notes (2 shots)
SV Ould Mahmoud speaking in Arabic with translator speaking in French
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Background: The Polisario Front, which is fighting for the independence of the Western Sahara, has restated its demand that Mauritania withdraw its forces from the disputed region in return for the release of six French people seized by the Polisario Front in a raid on May 1.
SYNOPSIS: The demand came at a news conference given in Algiers on Monday (20 June) by the newly elected President of the Saharan National Council, Mr Sid Ahmed Ould Mahmoud. Mr Ould Mahmoud said the Front would release the six if Mauritania gave them a list of the prisoners it had captured in fighting against the Polisario Front and withdrew from the Western Sahara. The French were captured during a raid on Mauritanian town of Zouerate, an important mining centre.
The Polisario Front has been waging a guerilla campaign against both Mauritania and Morocco ever since the Spanish Government handed the territory over to two countries in February, 1975. The guerrillas have set up small base camps throughout much of the disputed territory, and from them have organised raids against Moroccan and Mauritanian military posts and settlements. The Front has vowed to prevent the disappearance from the map of the Western Sahara, while the occupying nations claim they are only recovering territory taken from them in the colonial era.
Mr Ould Mahmoud also said that the Polisario Front would send a delegation to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) summit meeting to be held in Libreville. He accused President Omar Bongo of Gabon of trying to prevent them attending, but said they would definitely take part in the discussions.