Africa

Fresh rioting breaks out in Algerian capital Algiers

Algerian protesters throw stones
Image caption The trouble in Algeria has spread, while the government says it is taking measures to bring it under control

Fresh rioting has broken out in the Algerian capital and several other cities, after days of unrest over food price increases and unemployment.

Police fired tear gas and used water cannon on stone-throwing youths following Friday prayers in Algiers.

The riots have been linked to rising food prices, housing shortages, and wider social and political grievances.

Government ministers called for calm, while earlier the football federation cancelled all this weekend's matches.

Football stadiums are one of the only places where people publicly voice their political frustrations, and matches are seen a potential catalyst for protests.

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

Algeria "has the means to take care of its youth and that is what it is doing through various development projects", the AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

Government offices 'ransacked'

The BBC's Mohamed Arezki Himeur in Algiers says there has been sporadic rioting in Algeria since the new year, when the price of many food products increased sharply.

But the protests intensified on Wednesday and Thursday, our correspondent says.

The riots also spread to Bab el-Oued, a working class district of the capital that was at the centre of the protest movement in 1988, at the beginning of a period of unrest that led to an Islamist insurgency in the 1990s.

Overnight, protesters ransacked government buildings, banks and post offices in "several eastern cities", including Constantine, Jijel, Setif and Bouira, according to the official APS news agency.

The unrest resumed on Friday despite the presence of riot police armed with tear gas and batons outside mosques in Algiers and along its main streets.

In the Belcourt district, youths threw stones at police after Friday prayers and set up road blocks, Reuters news agency reported.

Clashes also erupted for the first time in Annaba, about 550km (350 miles) east of the capital, where hundreds of people threw stones at police deployed outside government offices, according to AFP.

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Media captionThere has been sporadic rioting in Algeria since the new year

It added that violence took place in Tizi Ouzou, the main city of Algeria's Kabylia region, about 90km east of Algiers. There was also fresh violence reported in Algeria's second city of Oran.

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.

The prices of flour, cooking oil and sugar have doubled in the past few months.

Trade Minister Mustapha Benbada said government officials would meet on Saturday to find ways to limit the costs of basic food items.

The official unemployment rate meanwhile stands at about 10%, although independent organisations say it is closer to 25%.

The riots in Algeria follow a period of rare unrest in neighbouring Tunisia.

As in Algeria, the unrest has been linked to frustrations with the president and the ruling elite, as well as to concerns over jobs and living costs.

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