The Polisario Front, which wants independence, says that a 29 year-long ceasefire agreement was broken when Moroccan forces deployed troops and tanks to the UN-patrolled border zone in the disputed territory.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Polisario said the Moroccan operation was a premeditated attempt to prevent the latest efforts by the UN to discuss their demands.
The Saharawi people, many of whom live in refugee camps in Tindouf in Algeria as well as within Morocco, have long called for a referendum on self-determination.
Lotfi Bouchaara, Morocco’s ambassador to Moscow, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme that Morocco did not breach the ceasefire but its military was responding to a provocation by Polisario fighters who blocked a key road to Mauritania.
Morocco had reacted with “restraint”, he said.
“War is always a bad solution… we are ready to engage, we are committed to the political process,” he added.