Overnight riots in Algeria leave two dead

Protesters confront riot police in Constantine (8 January 2011) On Saturday, youths resumed their protests in Constantine and Kabylia province

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Two people have been killed in riots linked to food price increases and unemployment in Algeria, officials say.

One man was killed after protests in Tipaza province, while another died in Ain El Hdjel in Msila province, according to the el-Akhbar newspaper.

Four hundred people were also injured in unrest across the country, Interior Minister Daho Ould Kabila was quoted by the official APS news agency as saying.

The government is holding an emergency meeting to consider its response.

On Friday, the Algerian Football Federation cancelled all the weekend's league matches to stop them serving as a catalyst for further protests.

Appeal for calm

There has been sporadic rioting in Algeria since the new year, when the prices of many basic foodstuffs increased sharply.

But the protests intensified on Wednesday and Thursday, initially in the capital, Algiers, and then in other parts of the country.

Start Quote

Violence has never had results, not in Algeria or anywhere else, and our youth know that”

End Quote Hachemi Djiar Algerian Minister of Youth and Sports

Riot police were deployed on the streets of major towns and cities on Friday, but they did not stop the protests by youths resuming after lunchtime prayers.

In Algiers, there was sporadic unrest in several districts overnight, including rioting, looting and the vandalism of public and private property, according to a report by state radio.

Unrest was also reported Skikda, Sale, Constantine, Batna, Bordj Bou Arreridj, Tebessa, Guelma and Annaba, it added.

Clashes also erupted for the first time on Friday in Annaba, about 550km (350 miles) east of the capital, and Tizi Ouzou, the main city of Kabylia province. There was also fresh violence in the second city of Oran.

Mr Ould Kabila confirmed that two people had been killed. Unconfirmed reports said the two men had been shot dead by police.

There has been sporadic rioting in Algeria since the new year

On Saturday, youths resumed their protests in Tizi Ouzou and Bejaia, also in Kabylia province, and in Constantine.

Youth and Sports Minister Hachemi Djiar has appealed for calm, saying "violence has never had results, not in Algeria or anywhere else, and our youth know that".

The riots are widely seen as drawing on deep frustrations with the ruling elite and a lack of political freedom, as well as more immediate concerns about the cost of living, housing, and jobs.

They follow a period of similar unrest in neighbouring Tunisia.

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