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Last Updated: Friday, 29 April, 2005, 23:29 GMT 00:29 UK
Algeria's top GIA rebel captured
Algerian authorities say they have arrested the leader of an Islamic rebel group suspected of killing 14 civilians in an ambush earlier this month.

Boulenouar Oukil of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), the interior ministry said in a statement.

It said the security forces also seized a large arms cache in the operation.

Dozens of people have died in recent attacks by militants who oppose the policy of reconciliation of Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The interior ministry statement also said that another GIA member - Mohamed Chama - was also captured during the operation.

The civilians were ambushed by suspected militants on 7 April, when their cars were stopped at a fake roadblock near the town of Larba, about 30km (18 miles) south of the capital, Algiers.

The passengers were then forced out and shot dead. One driver escaped and alerted the security forces.

The attack happened soon after President Bouteflika had told Algerians that security had been "largely restored across the country".

The GIA and other militant groups waged a decade-long campaign of violence, following the annulment in 1992 of elections which Islamic groups were poised to win.

An estimated 150,00 people are thought to have been killed in the violence.

In recent years most attacks have been blamed on the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which is allegedly linked to al-Qaeda.


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