New Clashes Rock Algeria's Berber Homeland
New clashes broke out Sunday between youths and security forces in Tizi Ouzou, capital of Algeria's ethnic Berber homeland, Kabylie.
The clashes in the town some 110 kilometers (70 miles) east of Algiers came three days after Kabylie leaders were barred from staging a march in the capital.
Some 5,000 delegates of the Berber community who wanted to hand a list of demands to the president's office were blocked by security forces stationed along several dozen kilometers of the road to Algiers.
Sunday's clashes broke out after uniformed police upset the stall of a deaf cigarette vendor, witnesses told AFP.
Windows of a nearby cafe were broken in the incident, they said.
Youths took to the streets of the town, burning tires, crates and tree branches while shopkeepers closed their iron shutters.
Riot police were deployed and fired tear gas canisters in a bid to disperse the protesters, who responded by throwing stones before fleeing into nearby buildings.
A small group tried to torch the main court building but were dispersed by police.
Riots first broke out in Kabylie after the death in police custody of a Berber youth on April 18.
During weeks of riots, the Berbers, who have long resented perceived cultural discrimination, have demanded that the national police -- the gendarmerie -- leave the region, but the authorities have refused.
Berbers and other indigenous north African communities make up about a third of Algeria's population of 31 million, which daily contends with housing shortages, a declining standard of living and an unemployment rate of 30 percent.
The Berber unrest has found an echo among impoverished mainstream Arab Algerians, who have taken to the streets in the hundreds of thousands in several towns outside Kabylie -- TIZI OUZOU, Algeria (AFP)
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