January 26, 1998 in Nation/World

Villagers’ Throats Slashed In Latest Algerian Violence

Compiled From Wire Services

Raiders slashed the throats of 20 villagers south of Algiers on Sunday, the worst attack yet in a bloody weekend of massacres, ambushes and bombings blamed on Islamic insurgents.

In Brussels, European foreign ministers were gathering for a strategy session on ending the slaughter of civilians in the North African nation - but the Algerian military regime’s resistance to outside interference means options are limited.

Attacks timed to the Islamic holy month of Ramadan - now in its closing days - have killed about 1,850, according to independent reports.

Security forces, frequently accused of letting the insurgents massacre at will, clashed with militant bands at least three times in recent days, killing 29 rebels, according to Algerian newspapers.

In a terse statement, security forces said Sunday’s attack hit residents of the village of Frenda, 190 miles south of Algiers.

The statement was a variation from the government’s longstanding policy of ignoring or minimizing attacks in the insurgency, now in its seventh year. The regime announced its first-ever death toll for the insurgency last week, saying 26,536 people had died. Press estimates put the toll at least three times higher.

This Ramadan has been an especially deadly one in Algeria, whose isolated government is fighting hard-liners determined to install a strict Islamic regime. The insurgency started when Algeria canceled January 1992 elections that Islamic candidates were poised to win.

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