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Algeria police arrest 27 suspected members of separatist group

Published: Updated:

Algerian police said Monday that they had arrested 27 people suspected of belonging to a separatist group that Algiers considers a “terrorist” organization.

The individuals were arrested over the previous 48 hours in a case involving “undermining national unity, harming public order and inciting a gathering,” on suspicion of belonging to the Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylie (MAK), authorities said in a statement.

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It said 25 people were arrested in Kherrata, which last week saw clashes between protesters and police after a march in support of prisoners of conscience was banned.

The statement said security forces were wounded during the clashes in the town, which is located in the traditionally restive northeastern Kabylie region.

Two other people were arrested in an area around 60 kilometers (37 miles) away, according to the statement.

Items including “military clothing, bladed weapons” and MAK material were found in the individuals’ homes, it added.

The suspects were trying to “sow strife and fear among citizens and re-activate sleeper cells of this terrorist organisation, on the order of foreign parties,” the statement said.

Algeria’s Human Rights League (LADDH) on Sunday had called for the release of more than 20 people who it said had been arrested.

Separately, the LADDH said that authorities had arrested “journalist and human rights defender Hassan Bouras” on Monday and searched his home in northwestern El Bayadh.

It said it did not know the reason for Bouras’s arrest.

Bouras, who is also a LADDH member, had been sentenced to a year in prison in 2016 for “insulting a judge, a public forces member and a government body.”

Rights group Amnesty International at the time called Bouras a “prisoner of conscience” and said he had been sentenced “for a video denouncing corruption of local officials in the city of El Bayadh.”

According to prisoners’ rights group CNLD, around 200 people are in jail in connection with the Hirak pro-democracy protest movement that has shaken the country sporadically since 2019, or over individual freedoms.
Kherrata is seen as the cradle of the protests.