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Sunday, 4 August, 2002, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
Algerian troops 'rout rebel group'
Reports from Algeria say that up to 40 Islamic militants have been killed during army operations in mountains west of the capital, Algiers.

Algerian media reported that a group of rebels from the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat was surrounded in the Ouarsenis mountains.

Most of the fighting is thought to have taken place on Friday but some rebels had escaped the encirclement and were still being pursued.

The army was said to be using heavy weapons and air support.

The security forces have not confirmed or denied the reports.

The media also said a mass grave had been discovered near Sidi Moussa, 30 kilometres (18 miles) southeast of Algiers.

Rebel leader 'killed'

The fighting is the latest in a series of clashes between the army and the militants.

Coffins of people killed in rebel attack
Hundreds of thousands have died since 1992
On 30 July there were reports that Rachid Abou Tourab, leader of another rebel group the Armed Islamic Group, had been killed by security forces.

Nearly 900 people have been killed in the continuing unrest since the start of the year, but official figures put the death toll from 10 years of violence at over 100,000.

The insurgency began in Algeria in 1992 after the authorities called off an election that radical Islamists seemed likely to win.

Attempts at reconciliation by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika have come to no avail.

See also:

14 Jun 02 | Africa
31 May 02 | Middle East
08 Mar 02 | Middle East
18 Sep 01 | Middle East
11 Jan 02 | Middle East
13 Jan 00 | Middle East
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