Rabat – Forces from the Moroccan military, Royal Gendarmerie, and police in the southern region of Dakhla in Western Sahara are on high alert following an assault on an army colonel, media sources report.
The officer was attacked by individuals with covered faces and armed with knives, who then stole an army pick-up truck.
In the wake of the assault, the army, Gendarmerie, police have made a coordinated effort to investigate the incident and increase security in the area.
Army forces have conducted a sweep of the area in search of the suspects.
Early investigations led by a police unit suggested that the attackers likely belonged to drug- and cigarette-smuggling gangs.
The assault is the second in a month, following a similar attack on a solider in August.
Smugglers are not the only ones who target security elements in the region. Separatists loyal to the Polisario Front have previously conducted assaults against members of Moroccan police.
In December 2016 three separatists attacked a Moroccan policeman with knives. After their arrest, investigations revealed the attackers had worked to incite the local population to show support for Polisario.