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ALGIERS, March 23 (Reuters) - Police in Algeria's capital used tear gas on Wednesday to disperse a crowd of young men who threw stones and petrol bombs to try to stop bulldozers demolishing dozens of illegally-built homes.
Rioting over housing is fairly common in Algeria but Wednesday's clashes were unusually violent and took place at a time when Algerian authorities are wary of any sign of contagion from the unrest elsewhere in the Arab world.
At least five police officers were injured in the rioting, during which rioters also set fire to a car and threw bricks down on police from nearby rooftops, said a Reuters journalist at the scene.
The clashes, in the Oued Koriche suburb of Algiers, began when local officials ordered the demolition of more than 30 houses built on publicly-owned land without a permit.
Police in protective gear formed a shield around bulldozers which moved in to demolish the houses, but they came under attack from about 100 young men.
After a few hours all the illegal buildings were knocked down and the confrontation ended.
In the Algerian capital, a city perched on hills sloping down to the Mediterranean Sea, the buildings are packed tightly together and there is fierce competition for living space. (Reporting by Larbi Louafi; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Janet Lawrence)