Algerian Protests Turn Deadly on Fourth Day of
January 8, 2011
France 24, AFP -
At least three Algerian demonstrators were killed Saturday after
violent protests across the country entered their fourth day. The
government promised to cut the cost of certain foods in order to quell
the unrest, which was sparked by soaring prices. By
News Wires (text)
Three people were killed and over 400 injured in riots in Algeria
linked to rising food costs and unemployment, the interior minister said
Saturday, as the government scrambled to tackle the crisis.
In a bid to curb the price rises, which in some cases have reached
30 percent since January 1, the government announced a temporary 41
percent cut in customs duties and taxes on sugar and food oils.
"I confirm the death of three young people at M'sila, Tipaza and
Boumerdes," Interior Minister Dahou Ould Kablia said on the Canal
Algerie television channel, referring to three towns where unrest had
Two of the victims were killed Friday during the riots and the
third victim was found in a hotel burned down by rioters, he said.
After a meeting of cabinet ministers to deal with the crisis, the
government issued a statement announcing "temporary and exceptional
exemptions" on import duties, value-added tax and corporate tax for
sugar and food oils.
The measure would be retroactive to January 1 and be in force until
August 31. The government said it expected "producers and distributors
to urgently reflect (the exemptions) in sale prices to consumers."
Ould Kablia had said earlier that one victim in M'Sila, 300
kilometres (180 miles) southeast of Algiers, was shot dead Friday in an
attempt to break into a police station. Newspaper El Khabar named the
victim as 18-year-old Azzedine Lebza.
Another victim at Tipaza, 70 kilometres west of Algiers, was found
with head wounds on Friday but the exact cause of death was not known,
he said. A medical official said earlier that the man, 32-year-old
Akriche Abdelfattah, had been hit in the face by a tear gas canister.
Ould Kablia said police had been ordered to show restraint in
containing the demonstrations and had paid for it.
"More than 300 police and gendarmes have been wounded, while on the
other side there are fewer than 100 hurt," he said.
The minister said police had made an unspecified number of arrests,
slamming "criminal acts of destruction and violence by demonstrators who
spared neither public nor private property."
Youths clashed with police in Algiers and other cities across the
country on Friday despite appeals for calm from imams on the third day
In Annaba, 600 kilometres west of Algiers, 21 people including
seven police were injured, according to emergency services and a
policeman who asked not to be named.
The rioting, which broke out after Friday prayers in a poor
neighbourhood of the city, continued late into the night and on
Saturday. A local government office was ransacked, according to
In Tizi Ouzou, capital of the eastern Kabylie region, residents
said rioting had spread from the city centre to the outskirts, and
demonstrators burning tyres blocked the main road to Algiers.
Similar protests took place in the Algiers district of Belcourt but
the capital was calmer Saturday.
Most of the country's political parties had on Saturday called for
immediate measures to tackle the crisis.
The National Liberation Front (FLN), the leading member of the
country's ruling coalition, called in a statement for "concrete measures
to fight against the leap in prices and to protect the purchasing power"
"Controls must be imposed on prices. Speculation and monopoly must
be fought against," the party said, while condemning "theft and
pillaging" during the riots.
The General Union of Algerian Workers and Trade Minister Mustapha
Benbada have accused producers and wholesalers of inflating prices ahead
of new measures requiring them to systematically bill for their goods.
The unrest in the country, which is still under a state of
emergency following a civil war with Islamist extremists in the 1990s,
comes as the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)'s food price
index hit its highest level since it began in 1990.
About 75 percent of Algerians are under the age of 30, and 20
percent of the youth are unemployed, according to the International
Monetary Fund. Many are well-qualified but cannot find work.
In neighbouring Tunisia, which has been rocked by similar protests
over high unemployment, the country's main union on Saturday observed a
minute's silence for at least five people who have died since
demonstrations began there last month.
Algeria in turmoil as riots stretch over third day
Security tight in Algiers amid youth riots
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