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Thursday, 19 September, 2002, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Algerian army kills 24 guerrillas
Algerian authorities remove a body after a massacre
Algerian has been torn by a 10-year insurgency
Twenty-four armed Islamists are reported to have been killed by government forces in Algeria as part of a renewed military campaign against rebel groups across the country.

In a confrontation in the hills of Mascara, 350 kilometres (218 miles) west of the capital, Algiers, government troops are said to have killed 15 members of Algeria's Armed Islamic Group (GIA).

Coffins of people killed in rebel attack
At least 100,000 have died since 1992

The army killed a further three GIA members in the Guelma mountains in the south-east, as well as six more militants in the eastern Annaba region - reportedly after special agents infiltrated their group.

More than 100,000 people, many of them civilians, have died since fighting between the army and Muslim rebel groups began in 1992, after the cancellation of elections that a fundamentalist party was set to win.

Arrests

Over the last few days, the security forces are also reported to have arrested 15 people accused of providing money and logistical help to another armed group, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) in the region of Kabylie, east of the capital.

Security forces have been carrying out large-scale operations against both the GSPC and the GIA over the past month, often in remote areas, using helicopters, heavy artillery, and special anti-terrorist police.

But the armed groups have also been active. On Saturday, a group of 60 rebels destroyed a an industrial installation in Kabylie.

And about a dozen government troops have been injured in a series of ambushes and fake roadblocks set up by rebels in the region.

Both the GIA and the GSPC rejected a partial amnesty deal in 1999 that was offered by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in an effort to stop the violence.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Stephanie Irvine
"Large scale military operations against these armed Islamic groups"
See also:

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