Reuters/Morocco says Algerian soldier fired on Moroccans at border, summons envoy

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SHAFAQNA – Morocco said on Saturday that an Algerian soldier had fired on Moroccan civilians, badly wounding one of them, in the north east at the border with Algeria, and that it had summoned the Algerian ambassador for an explanation.

North African neighbors Morocco and Algeria share a 1,500 km (970 miles) land border that runs from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sahara desert. It has been shut since 1994 as the two countries have been locked in bitter disputes.

One of their biggest rows is over Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, most of which Morocco annexed in 1975. Algeria supports and hosts the Western Saharan independence movement Polisario, a stance that angers Morocco.

“Today at noon at the border point of Oulad Slaleh, an Algerian soldier fired three times on Moroccan civilians and injured badly one Moroccan citizen”, Communication Minister Mustapha Khalfi told reporters.

The tiny rural village of Oulad Slaleh in north east Morocco is near the city of Oujda, which lies just 15 km from the border with Algeria.

“Morocco is asking for explanations as dictated by the international law,” Khalfi said.

Reporters were also shown a photograph of a man with a bullethole to his face.

Algeria shut its land border with Morocco for the last time in 1994 after Morocco imposed visa requirements on Algerians in the wake of a shooting attack in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh.

Morocco said it suspected the gunmen, who killed two Spaniards, had ties to Algeria.

(Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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