Rioting over food prices subsides in Algeria


Several Algerian towns that had experienced days of rioting were returning to normal, local people said after a flare-up of unrest triggered by a sharp rise in food prices.

There were no reports of large-scale disturbances overnight, the first night of relative calm since rioting broke out on Wednesday in the capital and then spread to several cities across the energy exporting country.

In its first response to the protests, in which two people were killed, the government said on Saturday it would cut the cost of some foodstuffs, and promised to do whatever is necessary to protect Algerians from rising food prices, Reuters reports.

Dozens of municipal employees in the town of Bou Ismail, west of the capital Algiers, were early on Sunday clearing streets of stones and burned tyres left by protesters, a Reuters reporter in the town said.

One man was killed in clashes in the town, on Algeria’s Mediterranean coast, on Friday night.

Calm also returned to neighbourhoods in Algiers, where on previous nights crowds of young men had thrown projectiles at police and also ransacked shops and other buildings. Many traders had boarded up their stores since the unrest started.
“The shops are open. Everything here is normal today. I hope we will spend a quiet night,” said a resident in the working class Bab El Oued neighbourhood in Algiers, where some of the most violent clashes took place.

Measures announced by the government on Saturday include a suspension of customs duties and value added tax on imports of sugar and cooking oil, whose soaring prices triggered the unrest.