Algeria: Death toll rises to four in ethnic clashes in Ghardaia

7th Feb 2014

ALGIERS, (Xinhua): Death toll of ethnic clashes in Algeria’s desert city of Ghardaia, 600 km south of the capital of Algiers, rose to four after a young man succumbed to his wounds Thursday, a local source told Xinhua.

Minister of Interior Tayeb Belaiz, who traveled to Ghardaia Thursday, has ordered to increase anti-riot forces from 3,000 to 6, 000 troops to restore calm in the city, located not far from some oil and gas regions, the security source revealed.

Belaiz held talks with tribal elders from the warring parties — the Chaamba community of Arab origin and the Mozabite Berbers of the Muslim Ibadi sect — and local authorities in a bid to mediate a cease-fire.

He also ordered to set up an intervention unit comprising the police and the National Gendarmerie to deal with the deadly clashes.

On Tuesday, hundreds of Arabs staged a march to urge authorities to release their imprisoned fellows, but the rally turned into violent clashes with Mozabite protesters, leaving one dead and 60 injured. As many as 15 anti-riot police officers were injured in these clashes. Several homes, shops and cars were burned down.

The clashes resurged when local authorities refused to meet demand of the Arabs protesters to release the detainees.

Similar clashes broke out on Dec. 8 and eventually calmed by Jan. 23 after leaving two Mozabite youths dead and hundreds injured.

The government has been trying to set up reconciliation process by convening peace talks between elders of the two sides, but it seems the calm reigning there is fragile.

Editor: yan

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