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North Africa correspondent Heba Saleh
"French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine does not believe the killing will derail peace efforts"
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The BBC's Jim Muir
"Many other Algerians have been killed in recent months"
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Tuesday, 23 November, 1999, 22:47 GMT
Thousands attend Hachani funeral
Hachani's coffin was carried head-high through the streets

Thousands of people have attended the funeral in Algiers of the assassinated Islamist leader, Abdelkader Hachani.

They marched from his home in the Algerian capital, through the Bab el Oued district - known to be a stronghold of the outlawed Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) - to the Annour mosque, where the funeral took place.

"For it (Islamic state) we live and for it we die and meet our fate before the mighty Allah," the mourners chanted as they followed Hachani's coffin, draped in the white and green Algerian flag.

Riot police and sharpshooters were deployed in force around the Kattar cemetery to guard against attacks on high-profile politicians attending the burial.

Mr Hachani, the third most senior man in the FIS, was shot dead by a lone gunman on Monday.

Graveside eulogy

Several senior figures in the FIS movement were among the mourners, but their leader Abassi Madani, who is under house arrest, was not allowed to attend the service.

Abassi Madani was allowed to pay his respects
He was however permitted to pay a brief visit to Mr Hachani's house under heavy police escort.

Among the FIS leaders at the funeral was Abdelqader Boukhamkhem, who delivered a brief eulogy at the graveside.

"Hachani's martyrdom was for speaking his mind for justice... His assassins are enemies of peace, Islam and justice," he said.

The Algerian President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has deplored the killing.

Unknown killer

In a statement broadcast on television, Mr Bouteflika said it was proof that the enemies of reconciliation in Algeria were waiting for opportunities to strike.

Mr Hachani was shot dead by an unknown gunman as he entered a dental clinic near his home. There has so far been no claim of responsibility.

A FIS spokesman in London blamed "eradicators" in the country's political circles - a term it uses for those who want Islamic militants removed from Algerian life.

Others speculated that the radical Armed Islamic Group could be behind the killing.

Hachani was regarded as an astute political leader
Mr Hachani led the party to its landslide victory in the first round of legislative elections in 1991, before the army stepped in and cancelled the poll. Algeria was subsequently plunged into violence which claimed more than 100,000 lives.

He was subsequently jailed for five years, and kept a low profile after his release in 1997 because of a court order prohibiting him from engaging in politics.

However, he made it clear he was opposed to the decision by his party's armed wing, the Islamic Salvation Army (AIS), to cease its military activities.

He was also known to have had reservations about a plan put forward by President Bouteflika aimed at ending the violence in Algeria. The plan has been overwhelmingly approved in a referendum.

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See also:
24 Nov 99 |  Middle East
Islamist's death threatens Algeria peace process
24 Nov 99 |  Media reports
Islamists denounce "cowardly" killing of leader
16 Sep 99 |  Africa
Analysis: A people tired of conflict
23 Nov 99 |  Monitoring
Algerian press denounces killing
22 Nov 99 |  Middle East
Algerian Islamic leader shot dead
17 Sep 99 |  Africa
Algerian vote 'victory for peace'
17 Sep 99 |  Africa
Analysis: Bouteflika emerges victorious

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