Two dead in Algeria ethnic clashes

AP , Saturday 12 Apr 2014

A man was killed Saturday in the southern Algerian town of Ghardaia, the second fatality in less than 24 hours of ethnic violence between Berbers and Arabs in the region, local sources said.

A Berber in his forties was stabbed early Saturday morning, Hamou Mesbah, a senior member of the opposition Socialist Forces Front, told AFP.

And Abdallah Zekri, spokesman for the Collective of Mozabites (Berbers) in Europe, said the man had been taken "by a gang, tortured, stabbed" and his corpse "thrown in front of a mosque."

Zekri said the dead man's family needed police protection to recover his body.

Ghardaia has been the scene of violence since December when fighting erupted between Berbers and Arabs, known as Chaambas.

The violence has killed 10 people and wounded more than 400.

On Friday, a man was killed when unrest erupted outside a mosque in Berriane, 45 kilometres (28 miles) north of Ghardaia, after weekly prayers.

"A young Mozabite, Nacer Benacer, was killed by a bullet from a hunting rifle," Mesbah told AFP.

"Another youngster, the same age, is in a coma after he was also shot," Mesbah said, without elaborating.

The man suspected of shooting Benacer was arrested late Friday, a security official said.

National news agency APS reported that a dozen people injured in the Berriane clashes included two police officers.

The two sides threw Molotov cocktails and rocks at one another and caused a backup on a highway linking the country's north and south before police dispersed them with tear gas, APS quoted a local medical source as saying.

Some businesses and homes in the area were looted, the medic added.

In Ghardaia, hundreds of houses and shops in the town, which is a UNESCO heritage site, have also been burned down.

The Mozabite and Chaamba communities have lived together for centuries, but tensions have risen sharply since vandals destroyed a historic Berber shrine in December, touching off the violence.

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