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The Polisario announces the death of a high command after the shots of a drone

Moroccan armed forces kill Polisario police commander. Morocco has repeatedly reiterated its adherence to the cease-fire agreement, but has made clear that it will respond firmly to any attack.
Adah el Bendir, in the Sahara in a 2016 image.

EFE  -   Adah el Bendir, in the Sahara in a 2016 image.

The head of the Sahrawi National Guard, Adah el Bendir, was killed in the last hours in an alleged fight with Moroccan forces at one of the points of the separation wall built by Rabat in the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara.

The Moroccan Armed Forces on Wednesday foiled an infiltration attempt by Polisario militias and killed the separatist commander in charge, Moroccan, Algerian and Polisario media reported.

Morocco has reiterated on multiple occasions its adherence to the cease-fire agreement, but has made it clear that it will respond firmly to any attack by the separatists.

The Polisario Front confirmed that its police chief had been killed in the disputed Western Sahara region, in a statement. The Polisario convoy was destroyed by a Moroccan drone near the security fence, Algerian state radio said.

"National gendarmerie commander Addah Bendir fell Tuesday like a martyr on the field of honor," the Algerian-backed movement's Defense Ministry said in a statement.

He was "on military mission in the liberated zone of Rouss Irni, in Tifariti", located in the north, in the Polisario-controlled territory, it added, without detailing the circumstances surrounding his death.

The statement had been disseminated through the official news agency SPS, which later withdrew it from its website without explanation. A local official had also confirmed the death to the media.

Western Sahara is a former Spanish colony, largely under Rabat's control, where tensions between Morocco and the Polisario Front have simmered since the 1970s.

Morocco has offered autonomy, but maintains that the territory is a sovereign part of the kingdom.

The Polisario waged a war with Morocco from 1975 to 1991 and its leaders proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in February 1976.

Wednesday's statement said Bendir was born in the Tiress region in 1956 and joined the Polisario Front in 1978.

The Moroccan authorities did not immediately confirm the death.

Several Moroccan media had reported his death on Wednesday morning, allegedly during a Polisario-led operation "east of the wall" of sand separating the two sides.

Vehículo militar marroquí en Guerguerat
A Moroccan army vehicle drives in Guerguerat, in Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara. (AFP)

Tensions rose sharply in November when Morocco sent troops into the security zone to reopen the only road leading from Morocco to Mauritania and the rest of West Africa, which the separatists had blocked the previous month.

The Polisario responded by declaring the 1991 UN-backed cease-fire null and void, arguing that the road did not exist when the truce was signed and was therefore illegal.

Since then, the two sides have regularly exchanged fire along the demarcation line, although the claims are difficult to verify independently in the hard-to-access area.

The Algerian-backed Polisario Front controls about a fifth of the vast, arid territory and is demanding a promised UN-led referendum on self-determination.

International legal opinion points to the Saharan tribes' historical ties of loyalty to the Moroccan monarchy.