Algeria tense after riots

Police step up security across Algiers in wake of second wave of riots protesting inflation and unemployment.

    Algerian police have stepped up security in the wake of the second night of violent rioting against high prices and a lack of jobs in the country.

    Police deployed in large numbers outside mosques on Friday amid fears that fresh protests could break out after Friday prayers.

    Youths in the North African country have been rioting over the government's decision to increase prices of staples such as milk, flour and sugar.

    Police have cleared away barricades of burning tires set up by protesters in the capital, and traffic is moving smoothly again.

    Many officers are patrolling outside mosques in the tense working-class neighbourhoods of Babel-Oued and Kouba.

    On Thursday, youths torched government buildings and threw stones at police. Police helicopters circled over Algiers, and stores closed early.

    About 40 youths armed with swords attacked several shops in the city's El Biar area late on Thursday, looting a restaurant and emptying a jewellery store before security forces arrived, local reporters and witnesses said.

    Police fired teargas to disperse the protesters.

    Speaking to Al Jazeera, Ismail Debeche, a professor of political science at Algiers University, defended the government, saying that protesters were not acting "responsibly".

    He held traders of essential goods squarely responsible, saying that it was their unwillingness to bear the burden of government taxes that had led to the protests.

    Analysts have said that widespread corruption in Algeria allows traders to dodge taxes. Debeche said that "everywhere in the world there is corruption and mismanagement", but that a long term economic programme put in place by the government to build infrastructure would hold the people of Algeria in good stead looking forward.

    "I don't think there is any country in the Arab world or the African continent who will subsidise the essential goods and the housing, health and education [sectors]," he said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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