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Wednesday, December 9, 1998 Published at 16:31 GMT

World: Middle East

Upsurge of violence in Algeria

Guarding: Seven people died in the town of Merad last weekend

Authorities in Algeria say 42 people have been killed in overnight violence in the Chlef region in western Algeria.

A member of parliament intervened in a televised parliamentary debate to report the attack.

Interior Minister Mostefa Bensamour has also visited the scene.

The BBC's Heba Saleh: "Not a single public inquiry on the massacres"
The massacre took place near the town of Tadjena, about 200 km from the capital Algiers. It is not yet clear who was responsible.

The deaths bring the number of people killed in Algeria in the past 10 days to more than 100.

[ image: At least 60 people have been murdered this week]
At least 60 people have been murdered this week
Tens of thousands of people have been killed in violence in Algeria since 1992 when authorities cancelled a general election in which the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) had taken a commanding lead.

Correspondents say recent killings have raised fears that the forthcoming Muslim fasting month of Ramadan - which this year begins in less than two weeks in Algeria - will be particularly bloody.

Some commentators say the armed Islamic fundamentalists blamed for the killings consider the holy month as appropriate for jihad, the holy war.

During the last Ramadan, in January this year, almost 1,500 people were murdered, many of them in massacres near Algiers and in the Ouarsenis region in the west of the country.

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