Protesters and police clash in northern Morocco

Protesters gather in Al-Hoceima, Morocco, where activists have been calling for their protest leader Nasser Zefzafi to be released (AFP Photo/FADEL SENNA)
Protesters clashed with security forces in Morocco\’s Al-Hoceima early on Saturday, an AFP correspondent reported, after more than a week of protests in the northern province.
The violence broke out in the town of Imzouren after police tried to stop demonstrators from gathering, activists said.
Dozens of youths wearing balaclavas threw stones at security forces, who responded with tear gas, the correspondent said.
The clashes ended before dawn, with the police deploying around 50 vehicles in the area.
There were no immediate reports of any casualties.
Last Saturday, both sides had also clashed in the town, some 15 kilometres (nine miles) from the city of Al-Hoceima, a centre of social unrest since the gruesome death of a fishmonger there last year.
Mouhcine Fikri, 31, was crushed to death in a rubbish truck in October as he tried to prevent the destruction of swordfish which had been confiscated because it was caught out of season.
Calls for justice in Morocco\’s neglected Rif region have since snowballed into a grassroots movement demanding jobs and an end to corruption, dubbed Al-Hirak Al-Shaabi, or Popular Movement.
Protesters have rallied nightly in Al-Hoceima since the arrest on May 29 of Al-Hirak leader Nasser Zefzafi and the subsequent detention of dozens of other activists.
Late Friday, more than 1,000 demonstrators — mostly young men and women, some with children — gathered in Al-Hoceima under a heavy police presence to call for Zefzafi and fellow activists to be freed.
Participants cleaned the streets as the protest came to an end shortly before midnight (2400 GMT).
The mainly Berber Rif region has long had a tense relationship with the central authorities in Rabat, and it was at the heart of the Arab Spring-inspired protests in Morocco in February 2011.
King Mohamed VI relinquished some of his near-absolute control through constitutional reforms following the 2011 protests.
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