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Algerian police prevents student protests for first time2 minutes read

They forcefully barred access to a square in central Algiers and managed to disperse the demonstrators

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Algerian protesters carrying national flags chant slogans during a students' demonstration

Algerian police 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, 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.

Algerian protesters carrying national flags chant slogans during a students' demonstration
Algerian protesters carrying national flags chant slogans during a students’ demonstration against postponing the presidential elections in Algiers, Algeria, 08 octobre 2019. According to reports, Algeria will hold elections on 12 December, after the July vote was postponed, amid political vacuum since president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned. (Photo by Billal Bensalem/NurPhoto)

Pay Attention: Court sentences Bouteflika brother to 15 years in Algerian prison

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.

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.

Algerian protesters carrying national flags chant slogans during a students' demonstration
Algerian protesters carrying national flags chant slogans during a students’ demonstration against postponing the presidential elections in Algiers, Algeria, 08 octobre 2019. According to reports, Algeria will hold elections on 12 December, after the July vote was postponed, amid political vacuum since president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned. (Photo by Billal Bensalem/NurPhoto)

Read Also: Algerians resume protests against General Ahmed Gaid Salah

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

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Health

Algeria insists on hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19 treatment

WHO said on Monday it had temporarily suspended clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for coronavirus.

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Algeria has disclosed plans to continue the use of hydroxychloroquine in tackling the coronavirus, despite the discouragement by the World Health Organization that has suspended clinical trials of such treatments following a study which showed that the drug caused more harm than good.

“We’ve treated thousands of cases with this medicine, very successfully so far,” said Mohamed Bekkat, a member of the scientific committee on the North African country’s Covid-19 outbreak. 

“We haven’t noted any undesirable reactions,” he said.

Bekkat, who is also head of the Order of Algerian Doctors, said the country had not registered any deaths caused by hydroxychloroquine.

“For confirmed cases, we use hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. Then there is a whole protocol for serious cases,” a health ministry official said on Monday.

Bekkat’s comments came days after medical journal The Lancet published a study of nearly 100,000 coronavirus patients, showing no benefit in those treated with the drug, which is normally used against arthritis.

The study found that administering the medicine or, separately, the related anti-malarial chloroquine, actually increased Covid-19 patients’ risk of dying.

The World Health Organization said on Monday it had temporarily suspended clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for coronavirus, following the Lancet study.

Bekkat argued that the Lancet study had led to “confusion” as it “seems to concern serious cases in which hydroxychloroquine is of no help”.

“There is evidence that the use of chloroquine by some Arab and African countries has proven to be effective when used early,” he explained.  

Public figures including US President Donald Trump have backed the drug as a virus treatment, prompting governments to bulk buy — despite several studies showing it to be ineffective and even increasing COVID-19 hospital deaths.

Algeria’s coronavirus outbreak is one of the worst in Africa, with a total of 8,503 cases and 609 deaths officially recorded since February 25.

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North Africa Politics

Egyptian security forces kill 21 terrorists planning Eid-ul-Fitr attack

Police raided two hideouts of “terrorist elements” in North Sinai governorate, sparking a gunbattle in which two officers were also wounded, the Interior Ministry said.

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An Egyptian police Vehicle is parked inside a cemetery after the former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was buried in Cairo
Egyptian security forces had found automatic weapons and suicide belts in the hideouts.) AFP

Egyptian security forces said Saturday that 21 terrorists were killed in clashes within the restive Sinai peninsula, where Islamic State group-affiliated militants have waged a long-running insurgency amidst constant crackdown by the police and military.

The government said two terrorist groups had been planning attacks during the major Islamic holiday – Eid al-Fitr – which starts in Egypt on Sunday.

The interior ministry said in a statement that police raided two hideouts of “terrorist elements” in North Sinai governorate, sparking a gun-battle in which two officers were also wounded.

Security forces had found automatic weapons and suicide belts in the hideouts.

Security forces have been battling a long-running insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula — in Egypt’s northeast — that is spearheaded by a local affiliate of the terrorist Islamic State group.

The fighting intensified after the military’s 2013 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.

In February 2018, security forces launched a nationwide operation against militants, focused on North Sinai. 

Around 950 suspected militants have been killed in the region along with dozens of security personnel, according to official figures.

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North Africa Politics

Libya’s Government of National Accord captures strategic airbase

It is a symbolic success for the counter-offensive that the GNA has been mounting against General Haftar’s forces for the past month.

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Libya's UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) forces attack the militias of renegade general Khalifa Haftar as they launch an operation in Tripoli, Libya on April 22, 2020. GNA forces launched an offensive against Haftar's militia in the Al-Khallatat area, the south of the capital Tripoli. Hazem Turkia / Anadolu Agency

Forces allied with Libya’s internationally recognized  government have seized the  Al-Watiya airbase, a key military base on the outskirts of the country’s capital from fighters loyal to renegade military commander General  Khalifa Haftar.

Military spokesman Mohamed Gnunu said in a Twitter post on Monday the forces of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) had taken over the entirety of the base near the Tunisian border.

The announcement by the administration of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj came after a month-long counteroffensive that has seen forces allied to it drive Haftar’s troops out of much of Libya’s western coast.

Haftar launched  an offensive Haftar  to take Tripoli in a lightning operation in April 2019, but his forces have been mired in fighting ever since resulting in a stalemated conflict that has killed more than 1,000 people.

It’s a symbolic success for the counter-offensive that the GNA has been mounting against Gen. Haftar’s forces for the past month.

The airbase has been an important asset for Gen Haftar for several years – its loss is another setback to his drive against the GNA from his power base in eastern Libya.

Libya a major oil producer, has been mired in chaos since 2011 when longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in a NATO-backed uprising.

It is now split between two rival administrations: The GNA in Tripoli and the eastern-based House of Representatives allied withGeneral  Haftar and his  Libyan National Army.

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