(updates throughout)


Moroccan police on Tuesday expelled seven Spanish citizens and four Norwegians from the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

Plainclothes police intercepted the Europeans and bundled them into taxi-vans headed for the southern Moroccan city of Agadir.

The Moroccan government has made no public statements on the expulsions and officials contacted by Efe declined to comment.

The Spanish ambassador in Rabat is in contact with Moroccan police with an eye toward aiding the Spaniards once they reach Agadir, official sources in Madrid told Efe.

The Europeans are expected to arrive in the city around midnight.

The Norwegians belong to Sandfast, an organization sympathetic to the native Saharawis' struggle for independence from Morocco, which moved to annex the former Spanish colony in 1975.

They traveled to Laayoune, the administrative capital of Western Sahara, to investigate the situation in the territory, one of the group, Pal Henriksen, told Efe.

As soon as they arrived, however, they were intercepted by Moroccan police and forced to remain in a hotel until Tuesday morning, when they were bundled into a taxi bound for the Moroccan city of Agadir, Henriksen said.

Joining the Norwegians in the taxi was Spanish free-lance journalist Gines Soriano, who said he was accosted by plainclothes police shortly after arriving in Laayoune on a bus.

Two groups of Spaniards with links to the United Left party were also forced to leave Laayoune.

Jefferson Cardenas said he and two colleagues were taken from a hotel by around 30 plainclothes police who told them that the local "governor had decreed the expulsion of all foreigners."

Three other people who planned to join Cardenas and his associates in Laayoune were stopped at a military checkpoint on the former border between Morocco and Western Sahara.

Thursday will be 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.

While according to the pro-independence Polisario Front, 19 Saharawis were killed and hundreds more wounded. EFE