Algerian police fire water cannon at protesters

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Algerian police are firing water cannon at protesters in the capital as tensions mount on the eighth week of protests against the country’s leadership.

The protest movement has been overwhelmingly peaceful but police were out in larger than usual numbers Friday.

Reporters from The Associated Press saw police spraying water repeatedly on a huge crowd on Didouche Mourad Street in Algiers, on the route toward the central post office that has become a symbol of the movement.

It was unclear whether something prompted the police to act.

The street was packed with protesters waving Algerian flags. Protesters shouted “Authorities - Assassins!” and surrounded the water cannon truck, with some appearing to hit it.

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The protesters pushed out longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika last week but now want other top officials to step down too.

Anger is mounting over military chief Gen. Ahmed Gaid Salah, who was instrumental in Bouteflika’s departure but then threw his support behind interim President Abdelkader Bensalah, seen as part of the old regime.

Bensalah was named interim president this week and announced new elections for July 4.

Protest appeals online call for both Bensalah and the military chief to step down.

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