Morocco begins probe after Algeria jet ski killingsFri, 01 Sep 2023 14:37:53 GMT

Morocco has begun investigating the death of a French-Moroccan after he and another Moroccan tourist on jet skis were shot dead by Algerian coastguards, media reports said on Friday.There has still been no official comment from either Algiers or Rabat about Tuesday’s incident at a time of increased tensions between the two North African countries.The Moroccan prosecutor’s office opened an investigation on Friday into the death of one of the young men, Bilal Kissi, “after the discovery of his body on the beach at Saidia”, the websites Al Omk and reported.Saidia is a popular summer seaside resort near the border with Algeria and is known for its long beach and water sports.Bilal Kissi, who lived in France, had left Saidia with his older brother Mohamed, their Moroccan cousin Abdelali Mechouar and their friend Smail Snabe, also said to be French-Moroccan, on jet skis on Tuesday.”We got lost but we kept going until we found ourselves in Algeria,” Mohamed Kissi was quoted as saying by Al Omk on Thursday.”We knew we were in Algeria because a black Algerian dinghy came towards us” and those on board “fired at us”.After the shooting, Mohamed Kissi was able to get back to Morocco and report what had happened.He told authorities after being picked up by the navy that the four friends had got lost and run out of fuel.Mechouar’s body is still in Algeria, Moroccan media reported on Friday, adding that Snabe had been wounded and was being detained by the authorities there.Bilal Kissi was buried on Thursday in Bni Drar village near Oujda, a city bordering Algeria, in the presence of dozens of relatives.- Increased tensions -“We buried a brother and want Abdelali’s body back. He’s our cousin,” a video released by Al Omk showed a cousin of Bilal Kissi as saying at his funeral.”We want to give him a dignified burial so his mother can have closure,” added the cousin, whose name was not given.”These young people weren’t involved in drugs and they hadn’t stolen anything. They are of good standing and were only here on a family holiday” from France where they worked, the cousin added.”One (of those who died) left two children, the other a daughter.”In Paris, the foreign ministry reported only one death without providing the circumstances, saying another of its citizens had been jailed in “an incident involving several of our nationals”.It did not release the identity of the person it said had been killed.France said its “crisis support centre and our embassies in Morocco and Algeria are in close contact with our fellow citizens’ families, to whom we are offering every support”.Tuesday’s deadly shooting comes at a time of increased tensions between Morocco and Algeria exacerbated by their antagonism over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.The border between the two countries has been closed since 1994, and Algeria broke off diplomatic ties in August 2021, accusing Morocco of “hostile acts” — a decision Rabat called “completely unjustified”.In July, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI said he hoped for a return to normality and reopening of borders with Algeria.However, Israel’s recognition of “Morocco’s sovereignty” over the Western Sahara added to tensions with Algeria, which called the Israeli move a “flagrant violation of international law”.