Eight Killed, Dozens Hurt in Ongoing Rioting in Algeria
Another three protestors and five paramilitary gendarmes have been killed in ongoing bloody rioting in Algeria's northeastern ethnic Berber region, press reports said Saturday.
Two of the protestors killed were struck by live bullets fired by gendarmes Thursday at Draa El Mizan, near Tizi Ouzou, the capital of Grande Kabylie, which has been swept by rioting since April following the death in police custody of a Berber youth.
The reports said the youths besieged the gendarmerie at Draa El Mizan, chanting "killer government" and "get out of here".
The gendarmes fired tear gas before opening fire with live rounds, the reports said.
Ferhat Didouche, 14, and Kamel Khalfouni, 28, were seriously wounded and died of their injuries while being transferred to hospital.
At least 76 people were admitted to hospital, 19 with gunshot wounds, other reports said.
Also Thursday, 19 people were injured with live rounds at neighbouring Boghni town.
The reports said that overnight Wednesday, a youth was killed during rioting at Guenzet, near the town of Setif, some 300 kilometres (188 miles) southeast of Algiers.
According to the El Khabar newspaper, five gendarmes died of wounds received during clashes with demonstrators at Tizi Ouzou and at Draa El Mizan. It gave no other details.
Other reports said that riots, fuelled by ethnic Berber resentment of President Abdelaziz Bouteflkia's Arabic-speaking regime, continued to affect a number of villages and towns in Grande Kabylie on Friday, but that calm had returned to the main flashpoints, the cities of Tizi Ouzou, Bouira and Bejaia.
On Friday, the National Gendarmerie announced that almost 1,000 paramilitary police officers have been wounded, many of them seriously, in the rioting in Grande Kabylie.
The death of the Berber youth in a police cell on April 18 was described by the authorities as an accident, but the incident unleashed pent-up Berber resentment against Bouteflika's government, which has spread beyond the borders of Kabylie.
Violent clashes almost daily for weeks between gendarmerie riot police using tear gas and live ammunition, and youths hurling stones and petrol bombs have left dozens of people dead.
The toll issued on Friday concerned only Grande Kabylie, where Tizi Ouzou is the chief town, 110 kilometres (70 miles) east of Algiers, but violence was also widespread in the other main town, Bejaia, and the Petite Kabylie region, further east.
The rioting has claimed 56 lives and left almost 2,300 injured, according to an official toll, while opposition parties and the private press say that between 80 and 100 people have died and more than 3,000 have been injured -- ALGIERS (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)