Algerian officials claim that “multiple” warning shots were fired just before the army opened fire on a group of skiers who had crossed the border from Morocco, killing two of them.
The fatal confrontation occurred on Tuesday after five windsurfers were swept onto Algerian soil while exploring the waters around the Moroccan resort of Saidia.
And the Algerian Ministry of Defense said in a statement: “Given that the maritime border area is witnessing intense activity of drug smuggling gangs and organized crime, members of the Coast Guard fired warning shots.”
“After several attempts, shots were fired at the jet ski,” the officials added.
One of the survivors, Mohamed Kissi, denied the account of the shooting that killed his 29-year-old brother, Bilal, and their friend, 40-year-old Abdelali Meshwar.
“I did not hear any warning shots. I only heard direct shots that killed my brother Bilal,” he said on Sunday.
Casey said another member of their group, Ismael Sanabi, was arrested by Algerian authorities — and Morocco’s National Council for Human Rights claims he has already been sentenced to 18 months in prison.
The borders between African countries have been closed since 1994 and Algeria severed diplomatic relations with Rabat in 2021 after a history of tensions and mistrust in the volatile region.
Casey said earlier that an Algerian government ship approached the group of friends after dark, and they were shot at even after seeing that they were unarmed.
“We were short of fuel for jet skis and we were drifting. In the dark we found ourselves in Algerian waters,” Casey told local news site le360. According to Sky News.
“We knew we were in Algeria because a black Algerian boat approached us (and) fired at us,” he recalls. BBC reported.
“They arrested my other friend (Sanabi). Five bullets hit my brother and my friend. My other friend was hit by a bullet,” he added.
After the shooting, Casey said he was forced to swim back toward Morocco before the Navy eventually arrested him.
The Kissy and Sanabi brothers hold both Moroccan and French nationalities. The Moroccan National Council for Human Rights condemned the fatal shooting and ordered Sanabi’s release.
Bilal’s bullet-riddled body was found by a fisherman and buried in Morocco on Wednesday.
Mouchoir’s father said he was still waiting for his son’s body to be released by the authorities so he could be given a proper burial.
“I appeal to the Moroccan and Algerian authorities to reach an agreement to return my son to me for a proper funeral and burial for him,” said Mostafa Mouchoir.
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 mail wires