Rioters clash with police in Algerian capital

ALGIERS, Nov 23 (Reuters) – Dozens of young men threw stones and glass bottles at police in Algeria’s capital on Tuesday in rioting triggered by a dispute over housing.

Energy exporter Algeria has periodic outbreaks of social unrest, usually over high levels of unemployment and cramped housing conditions, but riots are rare in the heavily policed capital.

The clashes broke out in the densely populated Diar Elaffia neighbourhood, in eastern Algiers, soon after municipal workers backed up by police began demolishing three houses that officials had ruled were built illegally.

Local residents, angered by the demolition, blocked roads and threw stones and bottles at police, a Reuters photographer at the scene said. The rioting subsided after a contingent of riot police arrived.

Algeria is emerging from a long conflict with Islamist insurgents, and some analysts and diplomats say social unrest now rivals militant violence as the biggest threat to stability.

The government has announced an investment plan worth $286 billion over the next four years to create jobs and improve living conditions. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has also promised 1 million new housing units by 2014.

In October last year, protesters in another neighbourhood of Algiers threw petrol bombs at police in several days of rioting over housing conditions.

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