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Tuesday, 18 September, 2001, 03:31 GMT 04:31 UK
Algeria tackles Islamic militants
A funeral for other Algerians massacred in Ain Tagourait
Recent massacres are blamed on Islamic extremists
By BBC North Africa correspondent
David Bamford

Security officials in Algeria have claimed a military success against an Islamist militant group that has been waging a war of insurgency for the past nine years.

They said the army had killed at least 28 rebels belonging to the second biggest Islamist faction, the Salafist Group or GSPC, to the south of the capital, Algiers.

The victory claim follows growing criticism of the authorities over their failure to put an end to endemic terrorism in Algeria in which an estimate 150,000 people have been killed.

Reports are rare in Algeria of military successes against Islamist rebels and this claim of victory is fortuitous for the government which is facing a wave of criticism.

Forceful

The contrast is being made between, on the hand, the Algerian authorities inability to have any impact on the country's endemic terrorism, and, on the other hand, the forceful approach being taken by President Bush following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

People caught up in an attack in 1997
Many have suffered in Algeria's ongoing violence
But now Algerian security forces say that, as a result of a sustained bombardment, they have managed to kill twenty-eight Islamist rebels belonging to the GSPC.

The rebels were located 300km south of Algiers in mountains between the desert towns of Laghouat and Djelfa.

The group is said to have been active for some time and were responsible for transporting weapons from African countries to the south to their GSPC allies in the north of Algeria where many attacks have taken place in the last few weeks.

Earlier on Monday, news came through from Mascara in northwestern Algeria of the latest attack by the main Islamist group, the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) in which eight civilians were killed, six of them from the same family.


algerian timeline puffobx
See also:

24 Aug 01 | Middle East
Toll rises in Algeria attack
07 Jul 01 | Middle East
Algeria violence kills 16
05 Jul 01 | Middle East
Algeria shuts out Berber protesters
24 Sep 00 | Middle East
Algeria violence returns after lull
13 Jan 00 | Middle East
Analysis: An unstable peace
12 Jul 00 | Middle East
Algerian anti-rebel drive failing
20 Jul 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Algeria
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