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Last Updated: Monday, 14 May 2007, 14:58 GMT 15:58 UK
Violence ahead of Algeria polls
By Mohamed Arezki Himeur
BBC, Algiers

FLN supporters
An insurgency began after the army annulled polls won by Islamists
Dozens of people have been killed over the last three days in Algeria in a fresh wave of fighting between the military and armed groups.

Violence is intensifying ahead of parliamentary elections due on 17 May.

According to local newspapers, 18 soldiers and 22 Islamist guerrillas were killed in a wave of bomb attacks and ambushes in the east.

The attacks stretched from the suburbs of Algiers to near Constantine, more than 500km away.

In one of the latest incidents on Saturday, a group of eight soldiers were killed as they were pursuing guerrillas in the mountains.

Seven soldiers were also killed and another 20 were injured in two bomb attacks in the east.

Offensive

The rebels are believed to belong to an Islamist armed group that calls itself the al-Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb, the newspapers said.

The army has launched fresh offensives on rebel hideouts in several provinces since a triple suicide bombing killed 33 people in Algiers last month.

The armed forces have stepped up their search operations against the armed groups ahead of the parliamentary elections.

Security measures have being reinforced notably with road blocks and check points around the main cities.

On Monday, the leader of the al-Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb, formerly known as GSPC, called for a boycott of the elections in a statement broadcast on al-Jazeera television, which enjoys a large audience in Algeria.

In his message, Abou Moussab Abdelaouadoud, described the election as a comedy.

He added that anyone taking part in them would be committing a sin.

Despite an amnesty announced two years ago, violence in Algeria has not completely died down since its height in the mid-1990s.


SEE ALSO
Q&A: Algerian election
15 May 07 |  Africa
Algeria fighting leaves 15 dead
08 Apr 07 |  Africa
Islamists battle Algeria's army
30 Jan 07 |  Africa



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