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Algerian police kill two in northwestern town

At least two Algerians were reportedly killed by security forces overnight in Oued Rhiou in unclear circumstances
Algerian riot police stand guard during a demonstration in the capital Algiers on 19 May 2019 (AFP)

At least two people were killed by Algerian police late on Wednesday in a town in the country’s northwest, officials have confirmed.

Minister of Interior Salaheddine Dahmoun called for an investigation into the case on Thursday, confirming the deaths of two young men in the town of Oued Rhiou.

According to newspaper El Khabar, an unmarked police car was chasing two youth on a motorcycle at around 10pm on Wednesday, when the police vehicle collided with the motorcycle, killing one of the two riders, identified as 15-year-old fruit and vegetable seller Serrar Amin.

The other youth on the motorcycle, identified as Fathi Belmehdi, was reportedly hospitalised in critical condition.

After the deadly crash, protesters encircled the local police station and threw stones at the building, El Khabar reported, at which point police fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas at the crowd - reportedly killing one.

While details remain unclear, social media accounts shared videos purporting to show the bodies of the two slain men, with some claiming four people in total had been killed by police overnight.

Meanwhile, an initial report by the Oued Rhiou attorney general quoted by Algerian news outlet TSA referred to the deadly crash that sparked unrest as a "traffic accident".

The violent events in Oued Rhiou took place as Algerian army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah ordered that buses and cars bringing protesters into the capital Algiers be stopped and seized, the latest in a series of measures aimed at quelling big weekly demonstrations demanding a purge of the old ruling elite.