Rioters pelted Algerian police forces with fire bombs and stones in a working class neighborhood of the capital Tuesday, and about 50 people were injured, witnesses said.
The protesters were facing off with riot police for a second day. Authorities used water canon and tear gas to break up a protest Monday.
Police said nine officers were injured Tuesday, and 10 a day earlier.
Violence broke out when police, acting on a judge’s order, arrived to raze shacks, some of which were built illegally on a football pitch in the working class El Madania neighborhood.
Youths in the neighboring housing project of Diar Chems fought off police attempts to take over the area, which lies about two kilometers (about a mile) from the North African nation’s presidential palace.
Young men, many with their faces masked, threw things at police squads as they tried to enter the housing project. Women on their balconies supported the rioters with cries of “God is Great.”
Residents said they were demonstrating for better housing, more jobs, a better lifestyle and the release of people arrested in Monday’s violence.
“Not only have police not released the youth detained yesterday, but they tried to arrest more people this afternoon,” said Ali Ramdane, a local resident. He blamed authorities for “stoking the fire.”
Large numbers of unemployed young people in the streets often make Algiers restive, but the massive security presence usually prevents violence from erupting. Riots occur sporadically in the rest of the country.
Algiers police fire on slum protest
At least 11 policemen were injured as protesters threw bricks, stones and petrol bombs at them [AFP]
People living in a slum district of the Algerian capital have taken to the streets for a second day to protest against job and housing shortages.
Residents of the Diar Echams area, frustrated over high unemployment and inadequate housing, clashed with police on Wednesday having started their protest on Monday night.
The police said at least 11 officers were hurt, although no figure of civilian casualties was given.
Protesters had used high ground above the suburb to throw bricks, stones and petrol bombs at police in riot gear as they attempted to enter the area late on Tuesday, sources aid.
Some residents of the shantytown are demanding that the city authorities include them on a list of those eligible for re-housing.
About 400 policemen in riot gear used tear gas and an armoured vehicle to break up the demonstration.
One officer was seriously hurt during an unsuccessful attempt to clear the protesters from a road they had been blocking, a Reuters reporter at the scene said.
Residents said they were protesting against squalid conditions in the suburb [AFP]
Police sources said several other officers had been hurt.
There was a lull on Tuesday evening after the police’s failed assault, but the protesters and police remained in a stand-off on opposite sides of a road.
Residents said they were protesting against their squalid living conditions in the working class suburb.
According to accounts in the Algerian press, up to 10 people live in a single room or in shacks.
Algiers has a heavy security presence due to ongoing skirmishes between armed groups and government forces.
After more than a decade of conflict between security forces and armed groups, the violence has subsided sharply in the past few years.
Many people in the former French colony of 35 million have now switched their focus to bread-and-butter issues, expressing frustration at the lack of jobs and housing.
“The current government has failed to solve social problems,” Mohamed Lagab, an Algerian political analyst, said.
“The unrest in Diar Echams is just an alarm bell.”
The government has spent billions of dollars in oil and gas revenues on projects to improve living standards and this year announced it would spend a further $150 billion on modernising the economy and creating jobs.
Algeria, an Opec member, is the world’s fourth biggest exporter of natural gas.