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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 January, 2004, 06:32 GMT
Moroccans wed after 24-year wait
Moroccan prisoners released in 2000
Moroccans are among the world's longest-serving POWs
A Moroccan man and woman have finally been married following a 24-year delay after the would-be bridegroom was captured by Saharawi guerrillas.

The man was one of thousands of Moroccan soldiers captured during the war for control of Western Sahara.

He told Moroccan TV that he knew his beloved would wait. After his release in November he rushed back to his hometown to find her.

"I had blind confidence in her since the first day we met," he said.

The man was identified only as Abderrahim.

His new bride - Bahia - told the station she always believed he would return.

"I never thought I had lost my husband," she said.

"I knew he'd come back one day. I never showed pain but hid it deep in my heart."

Prisoners' plight

The plight of the Moroccan prisoners-of-war, held in the desert town of Tindouf in Algeria, has recently attracted renewed international attention.

A report by a French-based human rights group said the prisoners had been subjected to near-starvation and torture.

The report sparked numerous calls for their captors, the Polisario Front - the independence movement for Western Sahara - to release the last few hundred soldiers they hold.

The BBC's Sebastian Usher in Rabat says that for many prisoners, coming back home has not been as easy as it has for Abderrahim - one of about 300 released last November.

Returning as elderly or sick men to a world with little place for them, many complain of being ignored by the Moroccan authorities.

However, our correspondent adds, that has begun to change - with stories like Abderrahim's being shown on national television.


SEE ALSO:
'Africa's last colony'
21 Oct 03  |  Africa
Polisario releases Moroccan POWs
02 Sep 03  |  Africa
New push to end Sahara conflict
14 Jan 03  |  Africa
World's longest serving POWs
13 May 02  |  Africa


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