Protesters, Police Clash in Algeria's Kabylie Region
Dozens of stone-throwing Berber youths angered over the cancellation of a protest demonstration have clashed with gendarmes in Algeria's troubled Kabylie region, newspapers reported Saturday.
Clashes broke out Thursday and Friday in the Kabylie capital Tizi Ouzou and in the town of Maatkas, and lasted several hours.
The paramilitary police responded with tear gas, and several protesters were injured, the reports said.
In El Kseur, near the region's main city Bejaia, some 250 kilometers (150 miles) east of Algiers, about a dozen people were injured in similar clashes.
They were protesting the cancellation of a major anti-government demonstration that had been called for Wednesday in the capital by a Berber protest movement launched in April.
Thousands of Berber protesters were prevented from entering Algiers on Wednesday when President Abdelaziz Bouteflika opened an international youth festival.
The Berber movement had called for a boycott of the week-long World Festival of Youth and Students, involving some 15,000 youth activists from 140 countries, calling it a masquerade aimed at burnishing the reputation of a repressive government.
Early Saturday, protesters set up barricades on the road leading from Algiers to Tizi Ouzou, forcing travelers to make detours across fields.
The barricades were put up to prevent Interior Minister Yazid Zerhouni from travelling to Tizi Ouzou for a ceremony inducting a new government administrators, the protesters said.
Riots swept across Kabylie, the Berber homeland, from April through June, sparked by the death of a youth in police custody and fueled by longstanding resentment over perceived discrimination.
Dozens of people died as gendarmes cracked down on the unrest.
Berbers and other indigenous ethnic groups make up about a third of Algeria's population -- ALGIERS (AFP)
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