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Rioters clash with police over housing demolition in Algeria

Louafi Larbi / Reuters

Riot police officers shield themselves from Molotov cocktails thrown by protesters during a demonstration in Oued Koriche, Algiers on Wednesday.

Louafi Larbi / Reuters

Riot police officers shield themselves from fireworks launched at them by protesters during a demonstration in Oued Koriche, Algiers on Wednesday, March 23.

Louafi Larbi / Reuters

A protester throws a stone towards riot police during a demonstration in Oued Koriche, Algiers on Wednesday.

The AP reports:

Police in Algeria's capital used teargas on Wednesday to disperse a crowd of young men who threw stones and petrol bombs to try to stop bulldozers demolishing dozens of illegally built homes.

Clashes over housing are fairly common in Algeria but Wednesday's riot was unusually violent and took place at a time when Algerian authorities are wary of any sign of contagion from the unrest elsewhere in the Arab world.

A police spokesman said 50 officers were injured in the clashes during which rioters also set fire to a car and threw bricks down on police from nearby rooftops.

The confrontation, in the Oued Koriche suburb of Algiers, began when local officials ordered the demolition of more than 30 houses built on publicly-owned land without a permit.

Police in protective gear formed a shield around bulldozers which moved in to demolish the houses, but they came under attack from about 100 young men.

After a few hours all the illegal buildings were knocked down and the confrontation ended.