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Thursday, 23 April, 1998, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
Algerian government clarifies stance on abortion

The Algerian government says it has issued directives to hospitals, authorising them to carry out abortions on women who have been raped by Islamic militants.

The health minister Yahia Guidoum,said he had based his decision on the 1985 Health Act which allows the termination of pregnancy if the woman's mental or physical well-being is in danger.

The religious authorities in Algeria have not yet reacted to the announcement, and a BBC correspondent in Algiers says their stance remains ambiguous.

Hundreds of women are believed to have been raped after being kidnapped by suspected Islamic militants who have been fighting the government since 1992.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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