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Wednesday, 11 October, 2000, 17:56 GMT 18:56 UK
Algeria violence kills 24
Relatives of Algeria massacre victims in 1997
Algeria has been rocked by massacres since 1992
At least 24 people in Algeria are reported to have been killed in recent attacks blamed on Islamic militants and government operations against them.

The daily Le Matin newspaper reported that a woman and her five children were found with their throats slit in Relizane region, some 260 km (163 miles) from the capital, Algiers.

The bodies of the victims - lying in large pools of blood - were discovered by a communal guard on Tuesday.

The father of the children belongs to a pro-government civil defence unit and has been missing for two days.

Troops search Islamist suspects in Algiers suburb
Violence has continued around Algiers despite tight security
In a separate incident on Monday night, three soldiers were killed and two injured in an ambush carried out by a group of suspected militants near Tipaza, 70 km west of the capital.

Two firemen were also killed in a similar ambush in Laghouat in the south and one was injured.

According to El Watan newspaper, the security forces killed at least 13 Islamic militants of the so-called Phalanx of Destruction in western Ain Defla region.

The operation began last Friday after a series of civilian massacres and about 30 militants are still reported to be trapped in the region.

Bloody Ramadan

The latest upsurge in violence has raised fears of more bloodshed in the month of Ramadan, which begins on 28 November.

This period normally sees a marked increase in the activities of armed Islamic militants.

Attacks on Algerian civilians have continued since a six-month amnesty for Islamist rebels to lay down their weapons ended earlier this year.

Although most of the Islamist rebels surrendered, many are reportedly taking up arms again.

More than 100,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in the civil strife which broke out in 1992 after elections which Islamists were poised to win were suspended.

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See also:

24 Sep 00 | Middle East
Algeria violence returns after lull
20 Jul 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Algeria
13 Jan 00 | Middle East
Analysis: An unstable peace
12 Jul 00 | Middle East
Algerian anti-rebel drive failing
17 Jun 00 | Middle East
France disappoints Bouteflika
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