Moroccan police arrest Scandinavian women

Police in Morocco detained two Scandinavian women for four hours in the chief town of Western Sahara, after they witnessed a police raid on a house, a Norwegian embassy official said on Wednesday.

Andrea Gustavsson, a Swedish member of the Socialist Youth League of Norway, and her Norwegian friend Kamilla Eidsvik, who also belongs to the movement, were arrested on Wednesday in Laayoune, where they were staying with a Sahrawi friend Amidane Rabab, 22.

“The Moroccan police picked them up because they were witnesses to a raid on a house close to Amidane Rahab’s. They were held at the police post for more than four hours, but got their passports back today,” the official told AFP, asking not to be named.

Rahab is a Sahrawi, or Western Sahara, activist who visited Scandinavia in July. Morocco annexed Western Sahara when Spanish settlers left in 1975 and regards the territory as the southern province of the north African kingdom.

The Scandinavians began their visit on August 17th and plan to leave on Thursday, the embassy official said.

A separatist movement, the Polisario Front, backed by neighbouring Algeria, rejects Morocco’s claim and demands independence. The United Nations monitored a ceasefire in 1991, but has been unable since to get the two sides to agree on terms for a referendum on self-determination.