Two French-Moroccan men have reportedly been shot and killed after they accidentally crossed Morocco’s maritime border with Algeria on water scooters, according to Moroccan media reports.
The incident took place on Tuesday after five men lost their bearings while exploring the sea on jet skis. France confirmed on Friday one of its citizens had been killed.
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The foreign ministry in Paris reported the death without providing the circumstances, saying another one of its citizens was jailed in “an incident involving several of our nationals”.
Mohamed Kissi told Moroccan news website 360.ma that he, his brother Bilal, and two friends were on vacation and riding jetskis off the waters of the Moroccan town of Saidia as the sun began to set.
“We were low on gas for the water scooters and were drifting. In the darkness we found ourselves in Algerian waters,” Kissi was quoted as saying.
A speedboat with the word “Algeria” emblazoned on the side carrying naval forces approached the group.
After a brief exchange, Kissi said Algerian forces fired on the group, and his brother Bilal and their friend Abdelali Mechouer were killed. Their other friend, Smail Snabe, was wounded and detained by Algerian forces.
The French-Moroccan said he swam to escape until he was rescued by Moroccan maritime police.
The French foreign ministry said its “crisis support centre and our embassies in Morocco and Algeria are in close contact with our fellow citizens’ families, to whom we are offering every support”.
No diplomatic relations
No immediate response was available from Algerian authorities.
A cousin of the brothers, actor Abdelkarim Kissi, asked Moroccan authorities to bring the case to international courts.
“They killed Bilal Kissi, my little cousin,” Kissi wrote on social media, “His only fault was crossing the Algerian territorial waters.”
According to 360.ma, a funeral was held for Bilal Kissi on Thursday in the Moroccan town of Bni Drar. The outlet also reported that Mechouer’s family is seeking the repatriation of his body, recovered by Algerian forces.
When asked Thursday about the incident, Moroccan government spokesperson Mustapha Baitas said “these issues are within the jurisdiction of the judicial authority’’ and did not provide further comment.
The border between Algeria and Morocco has been closed since 1994 and the two have had no diplomatic relations since Algiers cut ties with Rabat in 2021.