Rabat - Moroccan customs seized 8,300 unused mobile phones of different brands on Wednesday at the Guerguerat border crossing to Mauritania.
Rabat – Moroccan customs seized 8,300 unused mobile phones of different brands on Wednesday at the Guerguerat border crossing to Mauritania.
The seized mobile phones were hidden on a truck registered in Mauritania, the Dakhla customs office reported Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).
The devices were detected while the border authorities were checking the vehicle for imported goods at a customs checkpoint. A record of proceedings was drawn up, pending the definitive settlement of the case in question.
Saisie à Guergarate, le 11.10.2017, de 8.300 téléphones portables non déclarés transportés à bord d’un camion immatriculé à l’étranger.
— Douane Maroc (@DouaneMaroc) October 12, 2017
A Contentious Crossing
The buffer strip of Guerguerat came under the international spotlight in August 2016 when tension mounted between Morocco and the Polisario Front over security interventions in the area.
The tension erupted when Moroccan authorities intensified security measures in the area to combat illegal activities at the border area, where smugglers had been active.
However, the Polisario was not pleased by Morocco’s decision. The separatist force sent 36 armed militants to stop the Moroccan security forces intended to rid the region of smugglers.
Tension reached alarming levels in the months of December and January when the Polisario militants started obstructing the traffic of Moroccan trucks carrying goods to Mauritania and on to the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.
Morocco withdrew its law enforcement from Guerguerat in February after a request issued on February 25 by Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary General.
The UN chief urged Morocco and Polisario to “unconditionally withdraw all armed elements from the Buffer Strip as soon as possible, to create an environment conducive to a resumption of the dialogue in the context of the political process led by the United Nations.”
Immediately after the statement, King Mohammed VI ordered the withdrawal of Moroccan security forces from the region. The Polisario, however, did not withdraw its forces until the end of late April.
Besides Polisario’s activities in the buffer strip, the region poses other security challenges for Morocco.
In late September, a Moroccan officer serving in the crossing boarder of Guerguerat was attacked by individuals armed with knives, who then stole a Moroccan army pick-up truck.
According to an initial investigation conducted by a police unit, the attackers likely belonged to drug- and cigarette-smuggling gangs. This was not the only assault incident happened in 2017. A similar attack was carried out against a Moroccan soldier in August.
Separatists loyal to the Polisario Front also 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.