Culture Minister Azzedine Mihoubi, who is from Setif, suggested in a tweet that the culprit was the same man who damaged the statue last year. The colonial-era statue is the work of French sculptor Francis Saint Vidal, dating to 1889.
It was attacked and damaged last December. Authorities restored it and returned it to its pedestal with a festive ceremony last August. In 1997, when extremist violence raged across Algeria, Islamists dynamited the statue, which was repaired in Italy.
A previous version of this story corrected the spelling of the first name of the culture minister to Azzedine, not Azzasedine, and the last name of the communications director to Touiri, not Topuiri.