Protestors, Police Clash at Berber-Led March in Algiers
Police and protestors clashed violently in the Algerian capital Thursday during a Berber-led protest march that drew hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, said AFP, reporting no casualties.
The clashes occurred at the May 1 square, where police had formed a cordon to prevent the protestors marching on the offices of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, said AFP.
Berber leaders called the protest to demonstrate against what they say is state repression in the northeastern Berber homeland of Kabylie.
Local newspapers had forecast that up to two million people would join the march.
On Wednesday, thousands of Berbers protested against the Algerian government in the provincial town of Bejaia, renewing demonstrations that have been going on since April.
Riot police fought to contain the demonstration after march organizers proved unable to control it.
Shouting slogans in favor of the Berber language, Tamazight, the protesters threw stones at the provincial government office in Bejaia, said the BBC online.
Ethnic Berbers have been protesting against the government since a student died in police custody in April.
Dozens of people died in the riots, with government officials saying 42 people were killed, while Algerian press estimates were between 60 and 80.
The interior ministry banned a planned march in Algiers on 7 June, and police dispersed people attempting to protest.
More than 500,000 people took place in an anti-government demonstration in the town of Tizi Ouzou on 22 May.
Algeria has long had a tense relationship with the Berber region, where inhabitants demand official recognition of their culture, thought by many to be the oldest in North Africa.
The April riots are also seen as a symptom of the massive unemployment and general discontent confronting Algeria, according to the BBC.
At least 100,000 people have been killed in an Islamic insurgency that has been running since 1992 – Albawaba.com