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Player dies at Algerian league game after being hit by rock thrown from crowd

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ALGIERS, Algeria - A player died of a head injury after being hit by a rock apparently thrown by his own fans at a top-flight league game in Algeria and a police investigation will be opened into his death, the Confederation of African Football and the player's club said Sunday.

Albert Ebosse, a striker from Cameroon, died in the hospital Saturday night after being hit as players left the field following a 2-1 loss for his club, JS Kabylie. Ebosse had scored his side's equalizer from a penalty in Saturday's game before they went on to lose 2-1 at home to USM Alger in the northern city of Tizi Ouzou.

The 24-year-old Ebosse, the leading goal-scorer in the Algerian league last season, was apparently hit by the rock hurled from a section of JS Kabylie supporters angry at their team's loss. Ebosse was struck as players walked off after the game and fans began throwing rocks at them. He was taken to the hospital around 500 metres away from the stadium, where he died.

"We expect exemplary sanctions to be taken against this grave act of violence," Issa Hayatou, the president of the African confederation, said in a statement on Sunday.

Algeria's interior ministry ordered that a police investigation be opened into Ebosse's death, JS Kabylie said in a statement on the club's website.

Ebosse "succumbed to a head injury," JS Kabylie said. There were no immediate reports of any other players being hurt.

The president of Algeria's professional league said he was present at the game but left minutes before the incident.

"I am still finding this tragic death hard to grasp because I was at the stadium just minutes before this tragic incident and Albert Ebosse was still running in all senses of the word before my eyes," Mahfoud Kerbadj said.

The Algeria Football Federation and the professional league both ordered emergency meetings over Ebosse's death. Officials from JS Kabylie and the match officials were summoned to a special meeting on Monday, league president Kerbadj said, and the stadium where the incident took place was closed until further notice.

Algeria Football Federation President Mohamed Raouraoua said he hoped that "the perpetrators of this unspeakable act are severely punished."

Ebosse joined Kabylie last year and became an immediate success, scoring 17 goals last season as his team finished second to USM Alger, the opponents on Sunday, in Algeria's top league. Algiers team USM Alger also offered its condolences.

"JS Kabylie's Cameroonian striker has lost his life after being hit in the head by something launched from the stands," USM Alger said. "This terrible news is saddening for football in our nation and in Cameroon and arrives like a bombshell."

Ebosse's body was transferred to a military hospital in preparation for it to be flown home to Cameroon, his club said.

___

Imray reported from Cape Town, South Africa.

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