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Sunday, 10 February, 2002, 08:19 GMT
Algeria puts dead militant on show
Algerian authorities display an unnamed militant and a body identified as Antar Zouabri (r)
Zouabri (r) was blamed for many massacres
Algerian officials have shown reporters the body of a top Islamist militant, who was killed during an assault by security forces.

Antar Zouabri, who led the extremist Armed Islamic Group (GIA), was shot dead late on Friday in a gunfight at a house in his home town of Boufarik, south of Algiers.

We have just eliminated a criminal of the purest sort

General Fodil Cherif Brahim
Military officials, who displayed his body and two other men killed with him, said Mr Zouabri was identified through fingerprint records.

The GIA - one of Algeria's two main extremist groups - has played a leading role in Algeria's brutal civil war, which began after an Islamic party was prevented from taking power following elections in 1992.

"We have just eliminated a criminal of the purest sort," regional army commander General Fodil Cherif Brahim told reporters.

Mr Zouabri had been wrongly reported killed several times in the past, but Saturday's announcement by the Algerian Government that he had been shot dead marked the first official statement.

"Antar Zouabri and two other terrorists were shot dead by security forces on Friday at Boufarik," the statement said.

Pursuit continues

It added that police had been given the tip-off that Mr Zouabri was in a safe house near Boufarik's main stadium.

Antar Zouabri
Zouabri led one of Algeria's most feared militant groups
General Brahim said the government would pursue the rebels until it had wiped out every one.

The authorities blamed Mr Zouabri for his part in a series of massacres and for encouraging GIA soldiers to kidnap thousands of girls to use as sex slaves in mountainous tunnels and caves.

Algerian intelligence said he evaded police and army manhunts by travelling with hundreds of fellow rebels, often through rugged mountains and thick forests.

The leader of hardline Group for Salafist Preaching and Combat, Hassan Hattab, is now thought to be the only other major rebel leader still alive in Algeria.

algerian timeline puffobx
See also:

09 Feb 02 | Middle East
Antar Zouabri: A violent legacy
11 Jan 02 | Middle East
Algeria's decade of bloody conflict
15 Oct 01 | Middle East
Killings in Algeria ambush
18 Sep 01 | Middle East
Algeria tackles Islamic militants
24 Jul 01 | Middle East
Family massacred in Algeria
13 Jan 00 | Middle East
Analysis: An unstable peace
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