Algeria stands idle in face of sectarian and racial violence in Ghardaia

Friday 03/07/2015
Ongoing crisis with no end in sight

ALGIERS - Fifteen people wounded in clashes between Berber and Arab communities in southern Algeria have died of their injuries, raising the death toll to 18, the national news agency APS reported Wednesday.

The agency, citing hospital and local officials, said dozens of other people were hurt in Tuesday's violence between Chaamba Arabs and Mozabite Berbers in the M'zab region on the edge of the Sahara desert.

Several businesses and homes burned down, state media said.

The violence broke out over the weekend, with security forces sending reinforcements in a bid to calm renewed clashes that intensified Monday and Tuesday night.

"Fifteen people died of wounds last night," a source at a local hospital said.

Three people had died Monday, mainly in the small town of Guerrara, near Ghardaia, state media said.

Ghardaia, around 600 km (370 miles) from Algiers, is home to both Arabs and the Mozabite Berber community, which speaks its own language and follows its own school of Islam. The area has often been a flashpoint for clashes as Arabs and Mozabites compete for jobs, houses and land.

Interior Minister Noureddine Bedoui arrived in Ghardaia early Wednesday, as tribal leaders called for "vigilance and wisdom," the official APS news agency reported.

About 30 people were also wounded, including seven seriously, in the past two days, while several businesses, houses and cars were burned, medical and local sources said.

The clashes were the worst in recent years. Similar violence erupted in the area last year, resulting in the death of at least two people. Five people died the previous year.