Ethnic clashes between Arabs and Berbers kill 2 in Algerian oasis city of Ghardaia

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ALGIERS, Algeria — Clashes between rival gangs of Arabs and Berbers left two dead near Algeria's southern oasis city of Ghardaia on Monday, the state news agency reported.

Regular clashes between the Arab and Berber ethnic communities in the picturesque desert city, a UNESCO world heritage site, have left a dozen dead and hundreds injured since late last year.

The latest clashes took place on the main road running through the nearby village of Berriane separating the two communities.

The young men threw stones at each other, set fire to tires and hurled firebombs, a day after several shops were burned.

Dozens of police were also injured.

Members of the local Berber community, known as Mozabites, speak their own language and follow different school of Islam than the majority of Algerians. The two groups compete over limited jobs, land and housing in the impoverished south and tensions escalated after a Mozabite cemetery was desecrated in December.

Before the latest round of fighting Monday, police charged with keeping order in the volatile region held a demonstration of their own in Ghardaia city protesting the constant attacks against them and what they called unfair restrictions on the use of force.

Police from all over the country have been sent to keep order in Ghardaia, which has been the scene of an uneasy calm since violence between the communities spiked last April.

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