Egypt, Algeria in diplomatic spat

November 16, 2009 12:00 am

, CAIRO, Nov 16 – Egypt on Monday summoned the Algerian ambassador to seek increased security for its nationals in Algeria amid violent incidents between the two countries vying for a place in the 2010 World Cup finals.

Cairo wants "assurances that the Algerian authorities are doing everything necessary to ensure the safety of Egyptian nationals in Algeria," deputy foreign minister for Arab affairs Abdel Rahman Salah told reporters.

He said Egypt’s embassy in Algiers has reported attacks on Egyptian nationals and interests in the fellow North African country.

Salah stressed "the importance of halting the escalation" following the Egypt-Algeria match played last Saturday in Cairo and in the runup to a play-off on neutral territory in Sudan on Wednesday.

Officials of the two countries are "in permanent cooperation to protect the Egyptian community in Algeria and the Algerian community in Egypt," he said.

Algeria’s ambassador, Abdelkader Hadjar, told reporters at the foreign ministry that authorities in his country were "making every effort and will do more to protect Egyptian nationals and interests."

Algiers had sought similar assurances from Cairo after its players were injured when stones were thrown at their bus as they being driven from the airport to the team hotel last week.

Despite that appeal, 20 Algerians were among 32 people injured in clashes after Saturday’s game.

On Sunday, 15 offices of Orascom Telecoms Algerie (OTA), a subsidiary of the Egyptian group Orascom, were ransacked, causing more than five million dollars in damage, its communications chief Hamid Grine said.

"More than 70,000 mobile phones with a value of five million dollars were destroyed or stolen," Grine said, adding that between 3,000 and 5,000 rioters were involved.

Also on Sunday, the Egypt Air offices in Algiers were ransacked during a protest by thousands of Algerian football fans, an AFP journalist said.


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