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12 killed as Algeria celebrates team's entry to World Cup

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The Canadian Press
11/20/2013 10:12:03 AM
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ALGIERS, Algeria -- Celebrations for Algeria's victory over Burkina Faso that sent the country's soccer team to the 2014 World Cup finals left 12 people dead and some 240 injured, authorities reported Wednesday.

People poured into the streets of this soccer-mad country late Tuesday after the game and most of the deaths and injuries appear to be from road accidents as cars raced around honking their horns in celebration.

The statement from emergency services said five celebrating fans were killed when their van slid off the road into a ravine in the mountain town of Bejaia, east of Algiers, while four others died in the southern city of Biskra when two trucks collided.

A 10-year-old was killed in the town of Bouira, also east of the capital, just after midnight when the vehicle he was travelling in drove off the road. Eight other passengers, including four children between the ages of 3 and 8, were also injured, said the state news agency.

The remaining two deaths occurred in the towns of Tipaza and M'Sila, the statement added without further details. Much of the north of the country was blanketed with heavy rains Tuesday, making road conditions dangerous.

Residents described a great deal of reckless behaviour in the course of the celebrations that continued throughout the night in some cities.

It is the fourth trip to the World Cup for Algeria and follows closely on its 2010 appearance in South Africa.

Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal and other members of the government lunched with the victorious team on Wednesday. The absence of ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was noted as another sign of his increasing infirmity following a stroke in April.

The 76-year-old president was nominated by his party Saturday to run for a fourth term.

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