ALGIERS: Two people died in car accidents after Algeria’s capital exploded in fireworks and horn-honking joy after the national football team qualified for the Word Cup knockout stages for the first time.
As the post-match celebrations continued into the early hours of Friday, young people honked horns and drove madly through the streets, resulting in car accidents that wounded 31 people across the country, according to police. Two young men died in separate car crashes.
After Algeria’s 4-2 upset win over South Korea last week, there were five deaths from car accidents, and one man died after having a heart attack during the second goal.
Across the Mediterranean, celebrations by Algerians in former colonial ruler France were marred by clashes with police. French national police said Friday that 74 people were detained around the country after overnight incidents.
In Marseille, young people climbed on signs and cars, waving Algerian flags in triumph.
In the Algerian capital, the center of Algiers was packed with jubilant youths as soon as the match ended in Brazil late Thursday in a 1-1 draw with Russia. That allowed Algeria to qualify for the round of 16, where they will meet Germany Monday.
In rare statement, the country’s ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika praised the team for their “brilliant qualification.”
“It is with great pride that warms our heart and the hearts of all Algerians as well as our supporters in the Arab, Muslim and African world, that we welcome your qualification to the second round,” said the statement issued by the president’s office late Thursday.
People watched the matches on giant screens set up around the cities. In Algiers, as soon as the final whistle blew, the massive crowd outside the iconic colonial-era post office erupted into cheers and fireworks until the air was blanketed in smoke.