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Arab-Berber fighting leaves 22 dead in Algeria

8 July 2015 17:55

In this image taken Friday Feb. 7, 2014 Muslims carry the coffin of Azzedine Babaousmail, a Berber who died of his wounds on Thursday, in the desert city of Ghardaia, southern Algeria. Weeks of sectarian tension in a southern desert city is boiling over after the deaths of two Berber men in as many days, including one that a local politician said was killed in a street fight as police stood by. Ghardaia, on edge for months, is divided between Algeria’s Mozabites, members of North Africa’s original Berber inhabitants, and Sunni Muslim Arab migrants. (AP Photo/Anis Belghoul)

Clashes between Berber and Arab communities in southern Algeria have claimed at least 22 lives, state media outlets report.

According to a Wednesday report by the national news agency APS, the deadly fighting erupted between Chaamba Arabs and Mozabite Berbers in the M’zab valley, on the edge of the Sahara.

The report said 19 people injured in two days of skirmishes succumbed to their injuries on Wednesday, raising the death toll to 22. Three people had been killed in confrontations on Tuesday.

Dozens of other people were reportedly hurt in the Tuesday-Wednesday violence.

During the deadly clashes between the two sides, homes, shops, public buildings, cars and palm groves were set alight in the area of Guerrara and the region’s main town of Ghardaia, about 600 kilometers (370 miles) south of the capital, Algiers.

M’zab saw the latest round of clashes last week that forced the government to deploy anti-riot personnel to control the region.

Tumult erupted in the area after centuries-old relations between its Arabs and Berbers broke down in December 2013. Hundreds of homes and shops, mostly of Mozabites, have been looted in and around Ghardaia since then, mostly over property disputes and after vandals destroyed a historic Berber shrine in the same month.

A UNESCO world heritage site, Ghardaia is famous for its traditional white-washed houses and busy market.

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