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Deadly Bombing In Algerian Village May Signal End To Insurgents’ Cease-Fire

Thu., Nov. 27, 1997, midnight

A bombing in a village in eastern Algeria may signal an end to a truce by one of the country’s Muslim militant groups.

The bomb exploded Tuesday morning in Toualbia, near the city of Jijel, 180 miles east of Algiers. Four people were killed and several were wounded, Liberte, an independent newspaper, said Wednesday.

The Jijel region is home to the Islamic Salvation Army, a small but significant faction in Algeria’s Muslim insurgency. The group declared a truce Oct. 1 in its fight to overthrow the military-backed government.

The bombing was the third attack in the region since the truce began.

Late last month, an armed group briefly took over the nearby village of Tailmane and killed a member of a progovernment self-defense group. Days later, a bombing killed another so-called “community guard” there.

There was no immediate way to determine the Islamic Salvation Army’s intentions. The government, which rarely comments on the insurgents’ violence, had no immediate response to the newspaper report, which suggested the Islamic Salvation Army’s cease-fire may be over.

The Islamic Salvation Army - the semiautonomous armed wing of Algeria’s largest fundamentalist political party, the outlawed Islamic Salvation Front - is believed to be poorly equipped and undermanned compared with its more violent rival, the Armed Islamic Group. That group, based in the Algiers region, has continued its attacks despite the Islamic Salvation Army’s truce.

An estimated 75,000 people have been killed in violence between the militants and government security forces since the insurgency began in 1992 after the Algerian military canceled legislative elections Muslim fundamentalist parties were expected to win.

Tags: unrest

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