Algiers police prevent weekly student demo for first time

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Algerian police on Tuesday prevented a weekly protest by students in the capital for the first time since an anti-regime movement took to the streets in February, AFP journalists and witnesses said.

They forcefully barred access to a square in central Algiers and managed to disperse the demonstrators after several forays, making at least 14 arrests, an action group for the release of detainees said.

“Police brutality reached a level not seen since the start of the demonstrations, according to several students,” El-Watan newspaper wrote on its website.

The prevention of the student march - a rally that takes place each Tuesday - follows a wave of arrests of journalists, activists and figures opposed to a December 12 presidential vote to replace longtime leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika who resigned in April after mass protests.

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Security forces have toughened their line against protests - including much larger rallies held each Friday, extending well beyond the student community - since the election date was confirmed in a mid-September announcement.

Protesters have been demanding political reforms and the removal of regime insiders - including Gaid Salah himself - before any vote.

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