"This is a matter that's being looked into." says UN spokesman in New York

A pair of Algerian long-haul trucks found burned in the Sahara desert region of Morocco were on the eastern side of a vast earth berm separating Moroccan government troops from Polisario separatists, a United Nations spokesman said Friday.

The Algerian president’s office said on Wednesday that three Algerians were killed by a military strike on their trucks, and it accused Moroccan forces in the disputed Western Sahara of being behind the attack. Algeria said the trucks were traveling from the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott toward the Algerian city of Ouargla as part of “normal commercial exchanges” when they were targeted.

Morocco has denied attacking the trucks.

Preliminary results of an investigation carried out by the UN mission in Western Sahara, the trucks “were located in the eastern part of Western Sahara, near Bir Lahlou,” Haq said during his daily briefing, adding that the UN mission found two trucks registered in Algeria parked next to each other. Both vehicles were “badly damaged and burned,” he said in response to a reporter’s question.

Haq said the UN sent patrols on November 3 to the site of the “alleged incident” which took place the previous day. In response to a question from the same reporter about why these trucks were in an area of ​​military operations when there is another route between Mauritania and Algeria, Haq said “I have no explanation for why the trucks are where they are. This is a matter that’s being looked into.”

Tensions between Algeria and Morocco have been exceptionally high in recent months.

The two countries in North Africa broke diplomatic relations in August over a standoff that largely centers on Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony annexed by Morocco in 1975, Ap reports.

Algeria backs the Western Sahara independence movement Polisario.

Last Sunday, energy-rich Algeria shut off a gas pipeline that fuels Morocco and Spain, heightening tensions.

With reports from the Associated Press.

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