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Two Moroccan jet ski tourists shot dead off Algerian coast

Survivor of incident accuses coastguards of fatal shooting of holidaymakers who strayed into Algerian waters by mistake
A picture taken from the Moroccan region of Oujda shows Algerian border guards patrolling along the border with Morocco on 4 November 2021 (AFP/File photo)
Algerian border guards patrolling in Oujda, along the border with Morocco, on 4 November 2021 (AFP/file photo)

Two French-Moroccan tourists were shot dead after they strayed into Algerian waters with jet skis, according to reports in the Moroccan media.

Dual nationals Bilal Kissi and Abdelali Merchouer were holidaying at a beach resort in the northeast Moroccan town of Saidia on Tuesday when they took a wrong turn across the maritime border, an eyewitness told Le360

They were shot dead shortly afterwards.

Two other French-Moroccans, Bilal's brother Mohamed and Smail Snabe, survived the incident. Mohamed said the shooting came from Algerian coastguards.  

“Around 5.30pm we got lost. We were running out of gas for the jet skis and were drifting. In the dark, we found ourselves in Algerian waters,” Mohamed explained to Le360.

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He said that an Algerian coastguard patrol approached them and exchanged words with Bilal, who then made a gesture to Mohamed, pointing westwards. 

"He told me the direction to take to return to Saidia," Mohamed said.

But moments later, bullets rained down on the group, fatally wounding Bilal and Merchouer. 

'They saw that we were unarmed, my little brother talked with them and yet they fired'

Mohamed Kissi, survivor

"They saw that we were unarmed, my little brother talked with them and yet they fired,” Mohamed said.

He added that he used all his strength to swim to the Moroccan shore, where he was met by the country's gendarmerie patrol.

There was no immediate comment from Algerian officials. Middle East Eye contacted the Algerian embassy in London but had not received a response by the time of publication.

A source told Le360 that Snabe, who also survived the incident, was detained by Algerian authorities and placed in pre-trial detention in Port Say, in the Tlemcen province of northwestern Algeria.

A video of a fisherman discovering the lifeless body of one of the two victims went viral on TikTok, sparking angry reactions from Moroccans on social media. 

A Moroccan government spokesperson declined to comment on the incident, stating that it was a "matter for the judiciary". 

Morocco and Algeria have had frosty relations for several decades, with longstanding disagreements over disputed Western Sahara territory, and more recent tension over revelations that Morocco may have spied on the phones of Algerian officials.

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