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French Version

Gas price hike sparks riots in Algeria

Rioting has erupted south of the Algerian capital and in the volatile Kabylie region over the government's plans to increase gas prices, newspaper reports said here on Tuesday.

Hundreds of youths on Monday trashed and set fire to public buildings in the town of Birine, in the Djelfa region 270 kilometers south of Algiers, in protest to the decision to hike prices in mid-winter. Security forces used tear gas against the demonstrators, carrying out several arrests, the reports said. Meanwhile in the northeastern Kabylie region, angry demonstrators in the town of Kherrata reportedly blockaded the region's main road.

Butane gas and fuel oil are the only sources of energy available to inhabitants of Algeria's remote mountainous regions and high plateaus. The government's decision to hike the price of from 170 to 200 dinars goes against a recommendation from the national Parliament.

Hostility to Algiers authorities erupted into bloody unrest in Kabylie in 2001, claiming at least 100 lives and leaving dozens more injured. The government in Algiers at the weekend reached an agreement with the region's tribal leaders, which includes economic demands and recognition of the language spoken by the ethnic Berbers who live mainly in the region.

Algers,01 24 2005
The Daily Star
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