​Algerian PM visits scene of deadly fighting

March 17, 2014 - 4:44:18 am
ALGIERS: Algeria’s premier yesterday visited a town on the edge of the Sahara where three people were killed in communal violence between Arabs and Berbers. 

Prime Minister Youcef Yousfi was accompanied by Interior Minister Tayeb Belaiz on the visit to Ghardaia, some 600km south of Algiers, where they met with local leaders, according to the national news agency APS.

The Unesco world heritage site on the edge of the Sahara desert has since December been rocked by clashes between the Chaamba community of Arab origin and the majority Mozabites, Berbers belonging to the Ibadi Muslim sect. Police have launched an investigation into the violence, an official said yesterday, adding that calm has been restored in the town.

Late on Saturday three people were killed with “blunt objects,” according to APS, while a local source said they were shot. It was not immediately clear to which community they belonged.

“Whatever the nature of the objects that caused death, only an investigation can determine the circumstances,” a senior police official said, adding that autopsies would be carried out. 

Another 89 people were wounded in the clashes, including 29 members of the security forces, according to a hospital source. 

Two Mozabite doctors said more than 100 people had been wounded but that many had not gone to hospital for fear of arrest.

Berbers represent around 30 percent of the Algerian population and have long considered themselves marginalised by the country’s Arab majority.