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Friday, 16 August, 2002, 17:36 GMT 18:36 UK
Dozens dead in Algeria massacre
Relatives of people killed in an earlier massacre
Thousands have died in attacks this year

In Algeria, there has been another bloody attack by armed Islamic militants.

According to a communique issued by the security services through the Algerian Press Agency, 26 people were killed in one of the bloodiest massacres since the beginning of the year.

The rebels have stepped up their attacks recently, killing thousands of people this year alone.

The killings happened in the early hours of Friday morning in Bokaat Laakakcha, in the Chlef region, some 200 kilometres west of Algiers.

The victims were members of three families and most of them were women and children.

The location of the massacre was significant because the village where it took place is located in a dense and mountainous forest between the volatile regions of Chlef, Ain Defla, Tissemsilt and Relizane in the west.

This forest is seen as one of the key strongholds of armed Islamic militants and the army has dropped bombs and sent troops into the area over the last six months.

New leader

This latest attack has been blamed on the Armed Islamic Group (GIA).

Rachid Oukali, alias Rachid Abou Tourab, the new head of the group, has vowed to continue in the bloody footsteps of his predecessor who was killed by the security forces in February.

He has said in the past that there will be no dialogue, no respite - only blood and destruction.

The 28-year-old has also threatened with death all Algerians who refuse to join in what he describes as the "holy war" against the government.

He is quoted as saying: "We will continue to destroy their harvests, take their goods, rape their womenand decapitate them in the the cities, the villages and the deserts."

Thousands of people have been killed so far this year and since 1992 some 160,000 have fallen victim to the seemingly interminable cycle of violence.

See also:

04 Aug 02 | Africa
05 Jul 02 | Middle East
14 Jun 02 | Africa
31 May 02 | Middle East
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13 Jan 00 | Middle East
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