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Algeria Arrests Suspected Members of MAK Separatist Group After Attacks

FILE - Demonstrators wave Berber flags in Agouni Arouss, Algeria, April 18, 2002. Suspected members of MAK, a group seeking independence for the Berber-speaking Kabylie region, were arrested after attacks in Algeria, police said Sept. 6, 2021.

Algeria has arrested 27 suspected members of a separatist group that the government has declared a terrorist organization, after an attack in two northern towns, police said Monday.

They said the 27 were suspected of belonging to MAK, a group that seeks independence for the Berber-speaking Kabylie region.

Morocco's support for MAK was one of the reasons cited by Algeria in cutting diplomatic relations with the kingdom late last month.

Police said the 27 were arrested "for their attempt to sow terror and strife among citizens by order of parties abroad," police said in a statement. “They resorted to assault and robbery of citizens' shops."

The statement said the attacks and the arrests took place in the northern towns of Kherrata and Beni Ourtilane in the past 48 hours but gave no further details.

It said several members of the security forces were injured when they intervened to protect citizens and their properties during the incident.

Police found accessories of military uniforms, bladed weapons, forged seals and mobile phones after searching the homes of those arrested, it added.

The government has blamed MAK, which Algiers declared terrorist organization last year, for devastating wildfires that killed at least 65 people in the Kabylie region, east of Algiers, last month. MAK, whose leadership is based in France, has denied any involvement.