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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 16:00 GMT
Berbers clash with police at protest
Demonstrators in June hurl stones at a police truck
More than 60 people have been killed since April
Fighting broke out on Thursday in a north east Algerian town between security forces and thousands of Berber demonstrators calling for cultural and linguistic recognition in the country.

Police in Tizi Ouzou, the capital of the predominantly Berber region of Kabylie, used tear gas grenades in an attempt to move the young Berbers staging a sit-down protest outside the headquarters of military police.

Stones and Molotov cocktails were thrown and anti-government slogans chanted by the protesters, who are furious at attempts by more moderate members of the Berber community to enter dialogue with the Algerian Government.

Meetings were scheduled on Thursday between the moderates and Algerian Prime Minister Ali Benflis to discuss the Berber community's demands for better social, economic and cultural conditions.

They also want their Tamazight language recognised as an official language alongside Arabic and the gendarme police that patrol their communities to be removed.

Riots

There have been riots within the Berber ethnic community in Algeria since April this year, when a Berber youth died in police custody.

Berber protesters
Berbers demand recognition for their language

More than 60 people were killed and 2,000 injured.

The troubles led to a list of demands being agreed by moderates in the Berber community in June that are to form the negotiations with the Algerian Government.

However, militant Berber leader Belaid Aberkane told the French news agency AFP that the moderate Berbers attending the talks did not have the authority to speak for the community.

"These people have no mandate from the people to negotiate the blood of our martyrs," he said.

He also claimed that the demonstrators had been provoked by police.

"We wanted to organise a peaceful sit-in but the gendarmes provoked us by throwing tear gas grenades from their building," he said.


algerian timeline puffobx
See also:

04 Oct 01 | Middle East
Algeria's Berbers get language rights
20 Aug 01 | Middle East
Berbers reclaim place in history
24 Sep 01 | Middle East
Algeria hears Berber demands
20 Aug 01 | Middle East
Berbers march for their rights
08 Aug 01 | Middle East
Police move to block Berber march
19 Jun 01 | Middle East
Rising tide of Berber unrest
01 May 01 | Middle East
Berbers battle for recognition
20 Jul 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Algeria
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