Sectarian clashes turn violent in Algeria's south
Growing sectarian unrest in Algeria's southern town of Ghardia is turning violent, leaving one person dead and several injured Monday, according to Agence France-Presse.
A group of youth reportedly "went on a rampage" starting Sunday in five of the town's neighborhoods and allegedly stabbed a 29-year-old man who was identified as a member of the Berber minority at his home.
"Until Sunday, a group of youths was spreading fear by attacking different neighbourhoods, one after the other. Then yesterday (Sunday), five neighbourhoods were attacked simultaneously," Ahmed Baba Aissa, a spokesman for the Ghardaia coordination committee, an association established to "defuse ongoing tensions" between Arab and Berber sects in the town, told AFP.
The youth attacks also left another 10 wounded according to Algerian media sources.
"The clashes continued until 7.00 am (0600 GMT) this morning [when] the police managed to restore calm," Baba Aissa added.
A senior member of the opposition Socialist Forces Front in Ghardaia, Hamou Mesbah, said that the attacks were conducted by "a gang of criminals," and that Chaambas, the Arab majority group and Mozabites, from the Berber minority, have co-existed together peacefully for years.
"Some want to create trouble in Ghardaia ahead of April's presidential elections. The problem is that Ghardaia is fertile ground for stirring unrest. It's a transit town for drug trafficking," he added.
The oasis town 600 kilometers south of the capital has witnessed numerous sectarian clashes within recent years.