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2 killed in southern Algeria sectarian clashes

April 12, 2014

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Sectarian clashes killed two men from the Mozabite Berber ethnicity in the southern desert city of Ghardaia, Algerian security and medical officials reported Saturday.

There have been regular clashes in the picturesque desert city, a UNESCO world heritage site, since late last year between the Arab and Berber ethnic communities, leaving a total of nine dead and hundreds injured.

Police reported one man was killed by a hunting rifle during clashes Friday night in the nearby village of Berriane.

The Ghardaia hospital said a second man succumbed to his wounds after the clashes and died Saturday.

The two groups compete over limited jobs, land and housing in the impoverished south and tensions escalated after a Mozabite cemetery was desecrated in December.

Mozabite Berbers speak their own language and follow different school of Islam than the majority of Algerians.

Some 500 members of the Mozabite community demonstrated in Algiers on Saturday calling for the army to intervene to end the violence.

“Our cemeteries were desecrated ... we fear for the future of our community,” said Mohammed Laid Bakir, a demonstrator dressed in traditional robes.

In February, authorities sent in some 7,000 members of the national police force to the Ghardaia but violence between gangs of young men from the two communities have continued.

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