Algerian Paramilitary Police Begin Withdrawal From Berber City
Crowds cheered as paramilitary police began withdrawing from the tense Berber city of Tizi Ouzou Sunday, joyful over the departure of a force they accused of killing dozens in riots last year.
"We won!" shouted hundreds of young Algerians gathered in front of the paramilitary police headquarters, as they greeted the local forces who will replace them.
"Long live Kabylie!" they yelled, referring to the Berber province of which Tizi Ouzou is capital, 110 kilometers east of Algiers, AFP reported.
The impoverished region has been the site of almost daily clashes since last April, when the death of a Berber youth in police custody sparked several weeks of deadly riots.
The April clashes claimed around 60 lives and left 2,000 people wounded, according to an official toll, however Berber community leaders said at least 106 people were killed and at least 6,000 injured, blaming the deaths on excessive police force.
The violence continued Sunday, when a 15-year-old boy was killed during a riot in the Kabylie city of Bejaya, 260 kilometers east of Algiers, the Algeria Press Service said.
Rachid Bellahcene was killed when protestors clashed with riot police spraying tear gas, in clashes that began early Sunday.
The paramilitary police began pulling out overnight Saturday, witnesses said, and were to continue into late Sunday.
In Azazga, some 40 kilometers east of Tizi Ouzou, their headquarters were already emptied late Sunday and taken over by locals. (Albawaba.com)