Tourists on jet skis killed by coastguard after straying into Algerian waters


Two French-Moroccan holidaymakers were shot dead by the Algerian coastguard after they strayed across the maritime border between Morocco and Algeria while jet skiing.

According to Morocco's Le360 news website, Bilal Kissi and Abdelali Merchouer – both French-Moroccan dual nationals – came under fire after taking a wrong turn on jet skis off the beach resort of Saidia on Morocco's northeast tip.

A third man, Smail Snabe, also French-Moroccan, was arrested by the Algerian coastguard and appeared before a prosecutor on Wednesday.

There were reportedly four men in the group on Tuesday, all riding jet skis.

"We got lost but we kept going until we found ourselves in Algeria," Mohamed Kissi – the brother of one of the men who died – was quoted as saying by the Moroccan website Al Omk.

"We knew we were in Algeria because a black Algerian dinghy came towards us" and those on board "fired at us", he said.

'Five bullets'

"Thank God I wasn't hit, but they killed my brother and my friend. They arrested my other friend," Kissi said.

"Five bullets hit my brother and my friend. My other friend was hit by a bullet," he was quoted as saying.

"We got lost and we were out of fuel," he said, adding that he was picked up by the Moroccan navy who took him back to the Saidia marina.

Tensions over Western Sahara

The incident comes against a backdrop of increased tensions between Algeria and Morocco exacerbated by their antagonism over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

    The border between the two North African neighbours has been closed since 1994, and Algiers severed ties with Rabat in 2021 after accusing its Morocco of "hostile acts", an accusation Morocco called "completely unjustified".

    When asked by French news agency AFP about the reported shooting of the jet skiers on Thursday, Moroccan government spokesman Mustapha Baitas declined to comment, saying only that it was "a matter for the judiciary".

    There has been no immediate comment from the Algerian side.

    (with AFP)