The Algerian coast guard shot two tourists dead and arrested a third after the group accidentally entered their waters from Morocco on jet skis during their holiday.
Four tourists of French-Moroccan dual nationality set off from a Moroccan resort in the town of Saidia and “got lost” on the open waters until they found themselves in Algeria, one of the surviving members told the AFP.
“We knew we were in Algeria, because a black Algerian dinghy came towards us,” Mohamed Kissi, brother of one of the deceased, explained. The coast guard opened fire, killing Kissi’s brother Bilal and their friend.
Reports claimed that the group tried to flee the coast guard, which would have prompted the shooting, but Kissi insists they did not try to run. Their family has asked Moroccan authorities to bring the case to international courts.
The body of the second man killed, Abdelali Merchouer, remains in Algeria, according to a local Moroccan outlet. Kissi alone escaped.
Fishermen found his brother’s body hours later floating in the water. His family was able to reclaim his body and buried him near the city of Oujda in Morocco on Wednesday.
Merchouer’s family have appealed for the return of his body as well, asking for the authorities of both countries to come to an agreement to expedite the process.
Moroccan authorities did not comment on the case, calling it a judicial matter, and Algeria’s navy and foreign ministry have made no comment, either.
France’s Foreign Ministry said it had learned of the death of one of its nationals and the detention of another in Algeria and was in touch with the families and with authorities in Morocco and Algeria.
Smail Snabe, the man arrested by the coast guard, appeared before a prosecutor on Wednesday, but the details of the session remain undisclosed, the BBC reported.
The border disputes between Algeria and Morocco have remained tense since both gained independence from colonial France, with tight controls along the border and no direct legal trade between the two countries.
The border closed in 1994, and the countries severed diplomatic ties in 2021 due to alleged “hostile acts,” with Morocco calling the action “completely unjustified.”
Reuters contributed to this report.