Algeria said on Wednesday that three truck drivers were killed in a bomb attack on their way from Mauritania, an attack from Algiers blamed on neighboring Morocco, the official APS news agency reported.
The reported strike comes as tensions rise between Algeria and Morocco, particularly over the disputed desert region of Western Sahara.
“Three Algerians were assassinated (…) during a barbaric strike against their trucks”, declared the Algerian presidency in a statement, quoted by the APS.
He reported that they had traveled between the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott and the Algerian city of Ouargla.
“Several factors indicate that the Moroccan occupation forces in Western Sahara committed this cowardly assassination with a sophisticated weapon,” the statement added.
Western Sahara is 80 percent controlled by Morocco, which considers the former Spanish colony to be an integral part of its own territory.
But its great regional rival, Algeria, has long welcomed and supported the Polisario Front, which claims full independence there.
The reported killings took place on Monday, but few details emerged and there was no immediate comment from Rabat or Algiers.
The Algerian statement did not specify the exact location where the bombing took place.
But Akram Kharief, editor-in-chief of the Algerian site Mena Defense, declared that “Algerian truckers were killed at Bir Lahlou”, on a highway crossing the part of Western Sahara controlled by the Polisario Front.
The Polisario in November declared a three-decade ceasefire “null and void” after Moroccan forces broke the blockade of a highway to Mauritania, which the independence movement said was built in violation of ‘a 1991 truce.
In August, Algeria severed diplomatic relations with Morocco citing “hostile actions” – charges that Rabat rejected.
On Friday, the United Nations Security Council called for the resumption of peace talks, in a resolution Algeria called “fundamentally unbalanced”.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the situation in Western Sahara has “deteriorated considerably” over the past year.
Last year, former US President Donald Trump broke long-standing diplomatic norms to recognize Morocco’s claim to the territory as part of a quid pro quo for the normalization of Rabat’s relations with Israel.
The administration of his successor Joe Biden has yet to confirm or overturn the decision.