Algeria Arrests 27 Suspected MAK Separatists

Police in Algeria said they arrested 27 suspected members of a separatist group – Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylie (MAK) – that the government has declared a terrorist organization, following attacks in two northern towns.

MAK is seeking independence for the Berber-speaking Kabylie region.

Last month, Algeria had cited Moroccan support for MAK as one of the reasons for its decision to cut diplomatic ties with Morocco.

In a statement, police said the 27 were arrested “for their attempt to sow terror and strife among citizens by order of parties abroad,” adding that the separatists had resorted to assault and robbery of citizens’ shops.

The statement stated that attacks and arrests occurred in Kherrata and Beni Ourtilane, adding that 25 people were arrested in Kherrata, where protesters and police clashed last week after a march in support of prisoners of conscience was banned.

It said several members of the security forces were injured when they intervened to protect citizens and their properties during the incident.

Police found accessories of military uniforms, bladed weapons, forged seals and mobile phones after searching the homes of those arrested, it added.

MAK, which Algiers declared a terrorist organization last year, has been blamed for the devastating wildfires that killed at least 65 people in the Kabylie region, east of Algiers, last month. Its leadership, based in France, has denied doing anything wrong.

Algeria’s Human Rights League (LADDH) had demanded the release of more than 20 individuals arrested on Sunday.

In a separate statement, the LADDH said Hassan Bouras, a journalist and human rights defender, was arrested on Monday. Bouras, a member of LADDH, was also sentenced to a year in prison in 2016 after he used a video to criticize local officials for corruption.

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