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Wednesday, 24 April, 2002, 20:01 GMT 21:01 UK
Families die in Algerian attack
The Algerian Government says Islamic rebels have killed 16 people, including eight children, in the west of the country.

The rebels struck near Tiaret, about 340km (210 miles) west of Algiers, attacking farming families who were moving their herds to summer pastures, officials said.

The victims were killed in their sleep.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which happened in a region where Algeria's main rebel organisation - the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) - is active.

Three shepherds were killed in a nearby area on Sunday.

Civil war
Erupted after 1991 election result was cancelled by army
Islamists claimed enough support to take power
Death toll put at 150,000

Attacks have mounted in recent weeks since President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced a parliamentary election would be held on 30 May.

The GIA appointed a new national leader in March to replace Antar Zouabri, killed this year by the security forces.

His successor, Rachid Abou Tourab, has pledged to step up action to bring about a radical Islamic state.

The GIA rejected an offer from the secular government in 1999 to enter a reconciliation programme aimed at ending the civil war.

See also:

08 Mar 02 | Middle East
Suspected rebels kill six in Algeria
09 Feb 02 | Middle East
Antar Zouabri: A violent legacy
11 Jan 02 | Middle East
Algeria's decade of bloody conflict
18 Sep 01 | Middle East
Algeria tackles Islamic militants
13 Jan 00 | Middle East
Algeria: Country profile
06 Mar 02 | Middle East
Militants 'storm Algerian barracks'
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