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Tourists shot dead after jetskiing across country’s hostile sea border

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The Algerian coastguard has shot and killed two tourists and arrested a third after the group accidentally entered their waters from Morocco on jet skis while on vacation.

Four tourists with dual Franco-Moroccan nationality left a Moroccan seaside resort in the city of Saidia and “got lost” in the open sea until they ended up in Algeria, one of the surviving members told AFP. .

“We knew we were in Algeria because a black Algerian canoe came towards us,” said Mohamed Kissi, brother of one of the victims. Coastguards opened fire, killing Kissi’s brother, Bilal, and their friend.

There are reports that the group tried to flee from the coast guard which led to the shooting, but Kissi insists they did not try to flee. Their family asked the Moroccan authorities to take the case to international courts.

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The body of the second man killed, Abdelali Merchouer, is still in Algeria, according to local Moroccan media. Kissi alone escaped.

Algerian coast guards cross the bay of the Mediterranean port of Algiers, July 5, 2007. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra (Algeria))

Fishermen found her brother’s body a few hours later, floating in the water. His family was able to recover his body and buried him on Wednesday near the town of Oujda in Morocco.

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Merchouer’s family has also requested the return of his body, asking authorities in both countries to reach an agreement to expedite the process.

Tourist resort towns

A man rides a jet ski along the Bou Regreg river between the city of Sale and the Moroccan capital Rabat, on September 27, 2020. (Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images)

Moroccan authorities have not commented on the case, calling it a court case, and the Algerian Navy and Foreign Ministry have not commented either.

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The French Foreign Ministry said it had learned of the death of one of its nationals and the detention of another in Algeria and was in contact with the families as well as with the Moroccan and Algerian authorities.

Smail Snabe, the man arrested by the Coastguard, appeared before a prosecutor on Wednesday, but details of the hearing remain confidential, the BBC reported.

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Border disputes between Algeria and Morocco have remained tense since the two countries gained independence from colonial France, with strict controls along the border and no direct legal trade between the two countries.

The border was closed in 1994 and the countries severed diplomatic relations in 2021 due to alleged “hostile acts”, with Morocco, calling the action “totally unjustified”.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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