A human rights activist says more than 400 people have been arrested during a pro-democracy protest that brought thousands of people onto the streets of the Algerian capital.
Abdenour, who heads the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights, said some 28,000 security forces were deployed in Algiers to block the march and disperse the crowds.
Organizers of the march said 10,000 people turned out, but officials put the turnout at only 1,500.
Thousands of Algerians defied a government ban on protests and a massive deployment of riot police to march in the capital Saturday, demanding democratic reforms just a day after the same demands toppled Egypt’s authoritarian leader.
Heavily armed police tried to seal off Algiers, blocking off streets, lining up at strategic points along the march route and setting up barricades outside the city to try to stop busloads of demonstrators from reaching the capital. They also deployed in a neighborhood where many newspapers have their headquarters.
Despite the heavy security, thousands of people defied the government ban on street demonstrations, flooding into downtown Algiers. Some arrests were reported as police charged the crowd in a bid to disperse protesters.