NEWS
09/27/2011 07:49 EDT | Updated 11/27/2011 05:12 EST

Report: Riot after Moroccan football match in Western Sahara kills 7, including 2 policemen

RABAT, Morocco - Seven people were killed in a riot following a soccer match in Morocco's disputed Western Sahara region, the state news agency reported Tuesday.

Three people died after being run over by four-wheel drive vehicles and two of the others killed were policemen, the report stated, quoting local officials.

The riot in the town of Dakhla began after Mohammedia club Chebab, from just north of Casablanca, beat the local Mouloudia club 3-0.

Rival fans began throwing stones at each other and then "criminals" took advantage of the situation to attack people with knives and clubs, a statement from the Oued-Eddahab-Lagouira province said.

Initial reports put the toll from the incident at two dead and 27 wounded. Eight vehicles and local businesses were also burned in the rioting. The incident is under investigation.

Dakhla, which is about 1,830 kilometres southwest of the capital Rabat, is divided between residents originally from the area and those that arrived from the north following the Morocco's 1975 annexation of the Western Sahara. There has been tension between the two communities.

In February, residents from the Wikala neighbourhood attacked people elsewhere in the city. There were similar riots in 1999.

Deadly riots also broke out in the Saharan town of Laayoune, to the north, in November when Moroccan police moved against a protest camp.

Morocco fought a Saharan independence movement known as the Polisario for 25 years until a UN-brokered ceasefire took effect in 1991.

The Polisario condemned what it called the "wave of repression" by the Moroccan authorities in Dakhla.

"The combined repressive actions of the occupation army and settlers leaves no doubts about the colonialist nature Moroccan presence in our country," the movement's foreign representative, Mohamed Salem Ould-Salek, said Tuesday in a statement.

Morocco and the Polisario are in talks over the future of the territory but an eighth round of informal negotiations held over the summer in the United States failed to yield any progress.

Morocco has offered wide-ranging autonomy to the mineral-rich Western Sahara while the Polisario Front wants a referendum with independence as an option.