A total of 25 European activists have been expelled from the Moroccan-controlled territory of Western Sahara in the past 48 hours, Efe learned on Wednesday.

The 21 Spaniards and four Norwegians forced to leave the area are supporters of the native Saharawis' struggle for independence from Morocco, which moved to annex the former Spanish colony in 1975.

One of the Spanish activists, Carmelo Ramirez, told Efe that he, Telde city councilwoman Josefa Milan and journalist Laura Gallego arrived early Wednesday in Laayoune, the administrative capital of Western Sahara, aboard a bus from the southern Moroccan city of Agadir.

The three Spaniards went to the home of human rights activist Hasana Duihi.

"Some 20 plainclothes police knocked on the door, they took our passports, told us to collect our things immediately and they put us in a taxi-van headed for Marrakesh," Ramirez said, adding that the cops provided "no explanation."

Spanish consular officials said they were informed by Moroccan police about two other groups of Spaniards - 18 people in all - who were taken from Laayoune late Wednesday to Agadir and Marrakesh, respectively.

While insisting that the activists "are not detained," the Moroccans refused to provide a reason for the expulsions, according to the consular officials.

The Moroccan government has made no public comment on the matter.

Four Norwegians with the Saharawi-solidarity group Sandfast were forced to leave Laayoune on Tuesday.

Thursday is the second anniversary of an assault by Moroccan police and soldiers on a camp set up outside Laayoune by more than 12,000 Saharawis protesting Morocco's rule of the territory.

Rabat said the clashes left 13 dead, all but two of them members of the Moroccan security forces.

The pro-independence Polisario Front said 19 Saharawis were killed and hundreds more wounded. EFE