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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 November, 2003, 18:48 GMT
Saudi poet dies in Algeria ambush
A Saudi poet well known in the Arabic world has been ambushed and killed while hunting in the Algerian desert.

Talal al-Rasheed died and six of his party were wounded when an armed group struck on Thursday evening near Djelfa, Algerian newspapers report.

His body was flown home on Friday on a plane dispatched by the Saudi defence minister, a Riyadh paper confirmed.

Mr Rasheed, also a magazine publisher, began writing poetry in the 1970s and was known for his love poems.

He had been in Algeria to hunt gazelle and other animals in the Djelfa region, 250 km (155 miles) south of Algiers, local newspapers reported on Saturday.

No details have been given of the attackers.

Algerian instability

The Algerian Government has long been fighting a civil war against two main groups of militants: the Armed Islamic Group and the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC).

The GSPC has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of more than 30 European tourists in the Sahara desert earlier this year.

Other attacks on travellers in Algeria have been blamed on smugglers and bandits with no political aims.

Talal al-Rasheed, believed to have been in his early 40s, began writing poetry under the pseudonym al-Multa and he published the magazines Fawasel, Ibda and Bawasel.

The Associated Press reports that he sometimes used the simple, daily language of the Bedouins in his love poems - a style popular among younger Saudis.

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Country profile: Algeria
24 May 03  |  Country profiles

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