Friday, 7 January 2011

Algerian youths continue rioting

Algerian youths have been rioting for the second day throughout Algiers and several other cities. The riots were incited by a hike in the price of basic comestible, but also by other national grievances such as chronic unemployment and housing shortages.

The riots spiralled out of control when the youths torched a Renault car dealership and other buildings while chanting "Bring us Sugar!" In a bid to contain the protesters, Algerian police blocked off streets in the predominantly working class suburb of Bab el-Oued, in Algiers.

Police helicopters circled over the capital, as the rioters clashed with police on land by hurling rocks and debris in protest to their poor living conditions. The youths ransacked shops, lit tyres in the street and retaliated against the police who responded with tear gas and high-pressure hose. Reports have emerged about sporadic rioting in Algeria since the New Year, but the protests have become more violent since Wednesday 5th January.

The outbreak of violence on Wednesday came after a rise in prices for milk, sugar and flour amid mounting frustrations over the unequal distribution of the country's oil and gas wealth. Experts believe that the rioting is more than a mere sign of dissatisfaction with the rising cost of living, but also a deeper frustration with the government.

The riots spread from the suburb of Bab el-Oued to the suburb of Rouiba where youths set fire to tires, tore down street signs and smashed-in lights, while in the suburb of Bordj El Bahri rioters set fire to a post office and in nearby Dergana, youths set a town hall alight. The streets in various Algiers suburbs are now heavily patrolled by police, in case of another round of riots.

Sources: BBC News, Newsday, AP, Washington Post

For more news and expert analysis about Algeria, please see Algeria Focus and Algeria Politics & Security.

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