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Wednesday, 15 December, 1999, 20:21 GMT
Algeria violence escalates during Ramadan

Algeria has been plagued by conflict since 1992


Eleven Algerian soldiers have died in an ambush by Islamic militants, bringing to at least 50 the number of people killed since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The soldiers were attacked while travelling in a convoy late on Tuesday near Chlef in northwestern Algeria.

A group of Muslim guerrillas detonated a bomb and opened fire on the soldiers. Two of the rebels are said to have been killed in the ensuing gun battle.

Amnesty

It was the third violent incident in Algeria since the start of Ramadan last Thursday - which normally coincides with an escalation in the guerrillas' violent campaign for an Islamic state.


President Bouteflika Mr Bouteflika has set the amnesty deadline for January
Soldiers and civilians have been targeted in the latest spate of killings. In one incident, 11 members of one family were murdered.

More than 500 people have now been killed since July 13 when a government amnesty for the rebels came into force.

Peace pledge

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has vowed to wipe out rebels who have not surrendered by the amnesty deadline in January.

Mr Bouteflika, who came to power in April in a controversial presidential election, has said he is determined to bring peace to Algeria. The country has been ravaged by civil war since 1992.

About 100,000 people are said to have been killed in the conflict, provoked when the government annulled a general election in which an Islamic party had taken a commanding lead.

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See also:
07 Dec 99 |  Middle East
Call to end Algeria truce
07 Dec 99 |  Middle East
Analysis: Algeria's troubled truce
28 Nov 99 |  Middle East
Algeria hit by new massacres
23 Nov 99 |  Middle East
Thousands attend Hachani funeral
16 Sep 99 |  Africa
Analysis: A people tired of conflict

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