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ALGERIA: 2 dead, hundreds injured in riots over food prices

January 8, 2011 |  8:57 am


At least two people were reportedly killed and 420 injured in several days of rioting across Algeria sparked by dramatic hikes in food prices as well as persistent unemployment.

One was a young man who was shot dead when "he tried to intrude into a police station" in the town of Ain Lahdjel, 150 miles south of the capital of Algiers, and another died in a hospital in the city of Bousmaïl; "the conditions of his death remain unclear," Interior Minister Daho Ould Kabila told the official Algerian Press Service on Saturday.

The minister, speaking to state radio, said 320 of those injured were among the security forces and fewer than a hundred were protesters.

On Friday, prayer leaders at mosques around the country called for calm. Another report by the official news agency painted a bizarrely serene picture of a capital in a country that has been riven by violence over spiking food prices:

Return to calm was noticed in Algiers district Saturday morning after violence levels declined. Under a radiant sun ... Algiers inhabitants came out on the second day of the weekend in Algeria. Shops and markets are open and people going about their business as usual. People flocked to bakeries and grocery stores. ... The cafes also are open and receive a regular crowd. Clearly, the discussions revolve around what happened in the capital in recent days, lamenting the passage of the acts of vandalism and destruction that affected several public institutions, including schools, health centers and shops."

Reuters reports that the Algerian government is set to hold a special meeting Saturday to consider cutting food prices to help stem the riots.

-- Los Angeles Times 

Photo: Youths near a barricade in Constantine in eastern Algeria on Saturday. Credit: Associated Press