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Tuesday, 23 November, 1999, 13:04 GMT
Algerian press denounces killing

The Algerian press has been dominated by the assassination of the spokesman for the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) Abdelkader Hachani.


At least 12 newspapers, including Le Matin, La Tribune and El Alam Essiassy devoted their front pages to the subject.

"The killing of Hachani will remain as a regrettable episode in the persistent grief which has seized Algeria," Le Matin said in an editorial.

But the paper warned against anyone making political capital out of the incident.

"Nobody should be moved to express joy, nor childish political revenge, or even less ... devote themselves to making hasty and irresponsible interpretations which only serve to keep the vigour of the war alive," the paper said.

But the editorial had little sympathy for Mr Hachani, the number three in the Islamist organisation.

"Hachani has been slain by the knife which has been slashing at Algeria for 10 years and which, when he was alive, he never openly denounced.

"Fundamentalism has created extremes driven by hate and today this nuisance is returning against the historic fathers of Islamic terrorism, who have been judged by their own weakness," the paper said.

"It is the classic law of the excessive demand which produces its own demons and ends up being overcome by the executioners which it gave birth to.

"It's time Algeria lost its innocence," the editorial concluded.

El Alam Essiassy directed its feelings more towards the killing itself, and the possible consequences for President Bouteflika's reconciliation policies.

"The murder of Abdelkader Hachani ... is just another phase in the escalation of the terrorist violence that has swept the country since the referendum on the national reconciliation policy [in July]," the paper said.

"Whatever that ideological and political affiliation of those who were behind these kinds of action, their executioners and supporters, and pending what we might discover about this abominable murder in the future, the immediate and powerful effect of these kinds of action and the massacres is that they seek one aim: the sabotage of the national reconciliation at the domestic level and the tarnishing of Algeria's reputation abroad."

La Tribune was also pessimistic following Hachani's death.

"The end of the tunnel is getting further away," the paper' s editorial said, as the country was beating "unsavoury records of horror".

It quoted a source close to the Islamists as linking the murder to attempts to "torpedo the peace moves and dissuade armed men who are close to giving themselves up from doing so".

Mr Hachani's death, the paper said, would "weigh heavily in the balance with less than two months to go before the deadline set by Bouteflika for the handing in of arms".

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.
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