Algerian protesters clash with police for second day

Source: Reuters

* Youths throw stones, petrol bombs at police * One policeman seriously hurt * Protesters angry about housing conditions (Updates, edits) By Lamine Chikhi ALGIERS, Oct 20 (Reuters) – About 100 protesters threw stones and petrol bombs at police in Algeria’s capital on Tuesday in a second day of clashes fuelled by unrest over unemployment and housing shortages. One police officer was seriously hurt when about 400 police in riot gear used tear gas and an armoured vehicle in an unsuccessful attempt to clear the protesters from a road they had been blocking, a Reuters reporter at the scene said. Algeria, an energy producer fighting an al Qaeda-linked insurgency, rarely sees outbreaks of rioting in the heavily-policed capital. Some analysts say social unrest has replaced Islamist militants as the biggest threat to stability. Protesters spent much of the day hurling debris down onto police from high ground on the edge of a shantytown. As night fell, police moved in to try to disperse them but were driven back by a hail of bricks, stones and petrol bombs. The police officer who was seriously hurt fell from a rock face as he tried to climb up to the protesters, and was taken away in an ambulance. Security sources said several other officers had been hurt. The clashes broke out on Monday when some residents of the shantytown, in the Diar Echams district of Algiers, protested that they had not been included on a list of people who qualified for re-housing. There was a lull on Tuesday evening after the police’s failed assault but the protesters and police were in a tense stand-off on opposite sides of a road. Algeria is an OPEC member and the world’s fourth biggest exporter of natural gas. After more than a decade of conflict between security forces and Islamist fighters, the violence has subsided sharply in the past few years. Many people in the former French colony of 35 million have now switched their focus to bread-and-butter issues, expressing frustration at the lack of jobs and housing. “The current government has failed to solve social problems,” said Mohamed Lagab, an Algerian political analyst. “The unrest in Diar Echams is just an alarm bell.” The government has spent billions of dollars in oil and gas revenues on projects to improve living standards and this year announced it would spend a further $150 billion on modernising the economy and creating jobs. (Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
spotted by RS

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