The Algerian coastguard has reportedly shot dead two holidaymakers including a French national who strayed into Algerian waters from Morocco while on their jet skis.
They were said to be part of a group of four French-Moroccans who had set off from Saidia marina in Morocco after lunch on Tuesday but got into difficulty in the late afternoon and found themselves lost in Algerian waters.
Bilal Kissi and Abdelali Merchouer are reported to have been shot and killed, while a third man, Smail Snabe, also French-Moroccan, is understood to have been injured and was arrested by the Algerian coastguard.
A diplomatic source has confirmed that one French national has been killed and another imprisoned in Algeria, “in an incident involving several of our nationals”, the French broadcaster BFMTV said.
Mohamed Kissi, brother of Bilal, was the only one of the four to make it back to Morocco after the incident.
He told Morocco World News: “We knew we were in Algeria because an Algerian coast guard approached us, manoeuvring in a zigzag pattern.”
He has rejected claims the four had tried to escape when they were discovered by the coastguard. He said he believed his brother had asked for directions back to Saidia.
“I saw my brother talking to them,” he said and thought he was engaging with the Algerian guards to get back to Moroccan waters. “I saw my brother showing me the way with his hands.”
But then he added: “When we were heading back, the coast guards opened fire on us. Five bullets were opened against my brother and my friend.”
Mr Kissi said his brother fell into the water, clearly dead. He then decided to abandon his jet ski and swim back toward Saidia.
He said he was picked up by the Moroccan navy on his way back and told them what had happened but when they went back to look for the bodies, they could not find them.
A video has since gone viral of a fisherman discovering a body floating in the water.
The body of Abdelali Merchouer is understood to be still with Algerian authorities.
A funeral for Bilal Kissi has already been held in Morocco.
And Mr Kissi’s cousin, the actor Abdelkarim Kissi, has made an appeal on social media for the case to be brought to the international courts.
A diplomatic source told BFM TV that the crisis and support centre of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and the embassies in Morocco and Algeria are “in close contact with the families of our fellow citizens, to whom we provide all our support”.
A Moroccan government spokesman has said it was a “matter for the judiciary”.
There has been no comment from the Algerian authorities.
The incident comes against a backdrop of ongoing tension between the two North African nations over the disputed territory of Western Sahara,
The border between the two has been closed since 1994 after the bombing of a hotel in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh.