Andrew McConnell



Balal Mohammed Lamin

Age: 51
Polisario Soldier, pictured in Mehaires Military Base, in Polisario controlled Western Sahara


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I was born in Smara in 1958. I joined the Polisario in 1975 and Morocco entered Sahara on October 31st that year. I had no training, many of us were sixteen or seventeen years old but we were with older men and they taught us a lot. I had to leave my family to fight and for two years I didn't know anything about them. Some soldiers told me they were in the camps and I eventually found them there.

When the war started I believed in only one thing; to liberate the whole of Western Sahara. After the ceasefire I spent all my time waiting for the war to start again. Once during the war four friends were traveling in the jeep in front of me when a mine exploded, all four were killed. I saw them all die and I couldn't do anything. Once during a firefight with Moroccans my gun was shot out of my hands. That is twice I felt very lucky to be alive.

I was a mine expert in the war and we used to always blow up the wall. We would go in the dark and lift the mines and clear the area up to the wall. Then we would put explosives in the wall and blow it up then all our soldiers would enter the wall. The wall was like a grave for the Moroccans. For us fighters when the ceasefire was signed we didn't believe it would bring freedom, but politics is another way and we had to try it. I like peace like all Saharawi but when war begins again I will fight. I don't care about politics or the UN, I am a fighter. Waiting 18 years has brought us nothing, war will bring us a solution tomorrow.