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Algerian police detain dozens as they prepare for demonstration

Published:

Algerian police on Wednesday briefly detained 17 people as they prepared to hold a rally commemorating bloody pro-democracy protests of 1988, organizers said.

As organizers began arriving near the Mahieddine Bachtarzi National Theatre in the capital Algiers for the annual demonstration, they were greeted by plainclothes police.

“They started by rounding up those whose faces they knew, then they detained the president” of the Rassemblement Action Jeunesse (RAJ) group that had organized the gathering, said Hakim Haddad, its former secretary general.

After being held in various police stations across the Algerian capital the detainees were released.

RAJ usually marks the 1988 events by placing a wreath in Algiers’ Martyrs Square, which is currently closed for construction.

Some 200 people died when protestors clashed with security forces in riots across Algeria on October 5, 1988.

The unrest eventually led to the downfall of the single-party system dominated by the Front de Liberation National which had been in power since independence of the former French colony in 1962.