In a tragic turn of events, two French-Moroccan tourists, Bilal Kissi and Abdelali Merchouer, met an untimely demise after inadvertently venturing into Algerian waters on jet skis during their vacation. This incident has sent shockwaves through both nations and ignited concerns over the handling of the situation.
Innocent Holiday Gone Awry
Bilal Kissi and Abdelali Merchouer were enjoying their holiday in the idyllic Moroccan beach resort town of Saidia when a simple navigation error led them astray. Witnesses reported that the duo mistakenly crossed the maritime border, a mistake that would cost them their lives.
The tragic encounter occurred when the two tourists found themselves in Algerian waters, desperately running low on fuel for their jet skis. Mohamed Kissi, Bilal’s brother, who survived the harrowing incident, narrated the sequence of events. According to him, an Algerian coastguard patrol approached the distressed tourists. Bilal tried to communicate with the officers and gestured to Mohamed, indicating the direction they needed to take to return to Saidia safely.
However, what happened next was utterly shocking. Without any apparent provocation or reason, the coastguards opened fire on the group, fatally wounding Bilal and Merchouer. Mohamed expressed his disbelief, stating, “They saw that we were unarmed, my little brother talked with them, and yet they fired.”
Surviving Against the Odds
Despite the horrifying turn of events, Mohamed Kissi displayed immense courage and resilience. He managed to swim back to the Moroccan shore, where he was eventually rescued by the country’s gendarmerie patrol. His determination to survive in the face of danger is a testament to the human spirit’s resilience in times of crisis.
Silence from Algerian Officials
Surprisingly, there has been no immediate comment from Algerian authorities regarding this tragic incident. Middle East Eye attempted to contact the Algerian embassy in London for a statement, but at the time of publication, there had been no response.
Detention of a Survivor
Adding further complexity to this distressing incident, Smail Snabe, another survivor, was reportedly detained by Algerian authorities. He has been placed in pre-trial detention in Port Say, located in the Tlemcen province of northwestern Algeria. The circumstances surrounding Snabe’s detention remain unclear, and his situation raises questions about the treatment of survivors in the aftermath of such incidents.
Outpouring of Grief
A video capturing a fisherman’s discovery of one of the victims’ lifeless bodies went viral on TikTok, sparking a wave of anger and grief among Moroccans on social media. The shocking footage has underscored the tragic consequences of this incident and the emotional toll it has taken on the affected families and communities.
This unfortunate incident has unfolded against the backdrop of long-standing tensions between Morocco and Algeria. The two neighboring nations have grappled with disputes over the Western Sahara territory for decades. Recent revelations of alleged phone spying by Morocco on Algerian officials have further strained their already fragile relations.
The deaths of Bilal Kissi and Abdelali Merchouer serve as a heartbreaking reminder of the fragility of life, especially in regions marked by political tensions and territorial disputes. As both nations grapple with the fallout from this incident, questions linger about accountability, justice, and the need for improved communication and cooperation in disputed areas. The international community watches closely as this tragic event sheds light on the complexities of maritime borders and the consequences of misunderstandings in regions where geopolitics and tourism collide.