What happened in Tinzaouatine, in the south of Algeria, a locality straddling the Algerian-Malian border where a protester was killed by gunfire “Of unknown origin”, according to the Algerian Ministry of Defense?
On Monday March 15, residents of the locality gather to protest against a sand barrier topped with barbed wire which has been erected by the security forces between the two countries. Problem, according to a text written by the demonstrators, the work passes along the north bank of a wadi which marks the administrative border between the two countries.
If it is dry most of the time, water flows in it in summer. A thin net that is enough to make the stream bed, between 80 and 100 meters wide, the only wet band in the area. Wells have been dug there and the inhabitants send their animals to graze there.
Without calling into question the need for a security barrier in this highly sensitive region, the residents of Tinzaouatine are demanding openings in the wall so as not to be cut off from their water supply. Although closed, the border has never been sealed.
“Everyone knows that many families are divided between the two cities between the wadi. On the other hand, there is nothing, no water, no food, no living conditions. It is perfectly normal for families to help each other. They come to Tinzaouatine to get their supplies and leave ”, adds the mayor of Tinzaouatine, interviewed by the daily El Watan.
“Elucidate the circumstances”
But the demonstration turned into a riot, young people ransack the fence and clashes between them and Algerian border guards. Shots were then fired “From Ikhraben [localité malienne limitrophe de Tinzaouatine] towards the positions of our border guards and hit an individual among the crowd “, according to an official statement. The man “Was immediately evacuated by border guards to be taken care of by the health services, but he unfortunately died of his injuries”, they add.
On the rare videos posted on social networks, while a man lies on the ground for long minutes – “Fifteen” According to witnesses whom we hear from apostrophe from gendarmes or border guards -, the inhabitants seem to directly implicate the police when the mayor calls out warning shots and the wounded.
The military has ordered an investigation into “Clarify the circumstances of this incident” and calls for “Vigilance” in front of the ” disinformation “, which aims to “Disrupt the situation in this region”. The region is highly sensitive: the emir of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Abdelmalek Droukdel, was killed on June 3 a hundred kilometers from the locality.
On his Facebook account, Boudjemaa Balaou, an elected representative of the assembly of the wilaya (prefecture) of Tamanrasset also questions the layout of the defensive structure, erected without consultation and despite the protests of the inhabitants. An embankment that passes, according to him, “In the middle of the dwellings and leaves part of the Algerian territory isolated on the other side”. The elected official also denounces the brutal and recurrent behavior displayed by the border guards towards the local populations.