Friday, January 7, 2011

Second day of protests and clashes in several Algerian cities

Updated Friday evening.
Fresh disturbances broke out in Algeria on Friday as demonstrators and security forces clashed in the Algerian capital and other towns, after protests against steep hikes in basic foodstuffs and unemployment which according to the newspaper Al-Watan alreadu started on Monday.
One man of 18 was reported to be killed in Msila after he was shot by the police. In Biskra three policemen were wounded. In Algiers youths hurled stones and glass bottles at police, who responded with tear gas and water cannons. Clashes also erupted after Friday prayers in the town of Annaba, east of the capital, and Oran to the west, while the disturbances also reached Tizi Ouzou and Bejaia in the Berber region Kabylia which had hithero been quiet, and the southern city of Tebessa.
The national football league said that all top-level soccer matches scheduled for Friday and Saturday had been postponed. On its website the league said that also second class matches had been cancelled. Commerce minister Bendaba announced that a ministerial committee  will meet Saturday to find ways to halt the rise in the costs of basic food items that sparked the riots.
About 40 youths attacked several shops in Algiers' al-Biar area late Thursday, looting a restaurant and emptying a jewelry store before security forces arrived, local reporters and witnesses said. There was a second night of clashes in the volatile Bab al-Oued suburb, with police firing tear gas to disperse demonstrators, a witness said. One witness said youths had hurled Molotov cocktails.
Police positioned around mosques in Bab al-Oued, Belcourt and Bachjarrah, poorer areas of the city, in case of more unrest after Friday prayers, according to reporters on the scene. There was also extra security at a police station, a new shopping mall and a major hotel in an area near Bab Ezzouar airport, while a nearby university was surrounded by security forces.
Travelers said a road between the capital and eastern suburbs on the coast had been blocked since Thursday afternoon after youths set up barricades, also clashing with security forces.
In the Annacer-Diar al-Afia suburb, a Renault-Dacia car dealership showed signs of fire and residents said a public bus was also torched, although only burn marks on the road were visible by morning.
Protests led by small groups of young men have flared in several towns this week, linked to anger about a rise in the costs of basic food items by about 30 percent this month, unemployment and a lack of social housing.
About 75 percent of Algerians are under the age of 30, and 20 percent of the youth are unemployed, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Below video's of unrest in Bejaia (Kabylia), and clashes in Blida.

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