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Two French-Moroccan holidaymakers killed at sea by Algerian coastguards

Two French-Moroccan holidaymakers killed at sea by Algerian coastguards
Huntington Beach lifeguards search for two missing swimmers in the heavy surf South ...   -  
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SAM GANGWER/The Orange County Register


Two French-Moroccan holidaymakers were killed by Algerian coastguards after getting lost on jet skis in an Algerian maritime zone on the border with Morocco, Moroccan media reported on Thursday, citing a witness to the tragedy.

According to the news website Le360, Bilal Kissi and Abdelali Mechouer were killed on Tuesday evening by Algerian coastguard fire in Algerian waters after getting lost at sea on their jet skis near the Moroccan coastal town of Saïdia (north-east Morocco).

This popular summer resort is known for its long beach and water sports activities.

A third man, also French-Moroccan, Smaïl Snabé, was arrested by the Algerian coastguard and brought before an Algerian prosecutor on Wednesday, according to Le360, which relies on "corroborating sources".

This tragedy is likely to rekindle the intense regional friction between Algeria and Morocco, exacerbated by their antagonism over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

However, neither Rabat nor Algiers reacted publicly immediately.

Their borders have been closed since 1994, and Algeria broke off diplomatic ties with Morocco in August 2021, accusing Rabat of "hostile acts", a decision that Rabat considers "completely unjustified".

Israel's recent recognition of "Moroccan sovereignty" over the disputed territory of Western Sahara has further heightened tensions with Algiers, which has denounced "foreign manoeuvres" on its doorstep.

The four young men -- three Franco-Moroccans and one Moroccan -- were each on a jet-ski.

"We got lost but we kept going until we found ourselves in Algeria. We knew we were in Algeria because a black Algerian zodiac came towards us and started zigzagging as if they wanted to run us over," Mohamed Kissi, Bilal's elder brother, told the Moroccan website Al Omk.

He said he was picked up by the Moroccan navy, which took him back to the marina at Saïdia.

"They (the occupants of the zodiac) fired at us. Thank God I wasn't hit, but they killed my brother and my friend. They arrested my other friend," he added.

"We got lost and ran out of petrol", he added.

When questioned by the local press on Thursday, Moroccan government spokesman Mustapha Baïtas made no comment, saying only that it was "a matter for the judiciary".

There was no immediate confirmation from the Algerian side.

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