Algerian officials claim “several” warning shots were fired before the military fired directly at a group of jet skiers crossing from Morocco, killing two of them.
The fatal encounter came Tuesday after five jet skiers entered Algerian territory while exploring the waters around the Moroccan resort of Saidia.
“Given the intense activity of drug smuggling gangs and organized crime in the maritime border area, members of the Coast Guard have fired warning shots,” the Algerian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
“After several attempts, shots were fired at a jet ski,” the officers added.
One of the survivors, Mohamed Kissi, denied the report of the shooting that killed his 29-year-old brother Bilal and their 40-year-old friend Abdelali Mechouar.
“I didn’t hear any warning shots. I only directly heard shots that killed my brother Bilal,” he said on Sunday.
Another member of her group, Smail Snabi, has been arrested by Algerian authorities, Kissi said – and Morocco’s National Human Rights Council claims he has already been sentenced to 18 months in prison.
The border between the African nations has been closed since 1994 and Algiers severed diplomatic ties with Rabat in 2021 after past tensions and distrust in the volatile region.
Kissi previously said that after dark, the group of friends were hit by an Algerian government ship and shot at, although they saw that they were unarmed.
“We ran out of fuel for the water scooters and just drifted. “In the dark we were in Algerian waters,” Kissi told local news site le360. according to SkyNews.
“We knew we were in Algeria because a black Algerian dinghy was coming towards us [and] shot at us,” he recalled. reported the BBC.
“They arrested my other friend [Snabe]. Five bullets hit my brother and my friend. “My other friend was hit by a bullet,” he claimed.
After the shooting, Kissi said he was forced to swim back to Morocco before finally being apprehended by the Navy.
The Kissi brothers and Snabi have dual Moroccan and French citizenship, and Morocco’s National Human Rights Council had condemned the fatal shooting and ordered Snabi’s release.
Bilal’s bullet-riddled body was found by a fisherman and he was buried in Morocco on Wednesday.
Mechouar’s father said he is still waiting for authorities to release his son’s body so that he can have a proper burial.
“I appeal to the Moroccan and Algerian authorities to reach an agreement to bring my son back to me to ensure a proper burial for him,” said Mustafa Mechouar.
Prosecutors in Morocco said they were investigating the “violent incident” and France’s foreign ministry said it was in contact with authorities in its former colony.
With post wires