Police, youths clash in Mauritania census protests

NOUAKCHOTT — Police and demonstrators clashed in the Mauritanian capital Thursday after protests against a controversial census left one person dead earlier in the week.

A police spokesman said the demonstrators “had not sought permission for their march and the police intervened to uphold the law.”

Tear gas was used to break up and disperse the crowd.

One youth group, which opposes the census on the grounds it is racist and divisive, said it was the police who attacked the protestors who then had no choice but to respond in kind.

The police “attacked us. They did not leave any choice to the young people who have been frustrated (by the authorities),” said Wane Abdoul Birane of the ‘Don’t Touch my Nationality’ protest group.

Critics claim the census discriminates against black people but the government insists it must go ahead as a key step towards modernising the country.

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