More Violence Reported in Algeria
Suspected Islamic rebels killed 11 militiamen in an ambush in eastern Algeria on Sunday, the second attack on government forces in the past three days, officials were quoted as saying.
The ambush occurred on a road near the city of Batna about 435 km (270 miles) east of Algiers, said a report by the official APS news agency, cited by Reuters.
A security forces communiqué said the 11 were "assassinated in a cowardly (way) by a group of terrorists,” the word used by the Algerian authorities and media to refer to Islamic rebels who have been mounting a bloody insurgency in the North African country since 1992.
Sunday's attack brought to more than 490 the number of people killed so far this year.
More than 100,000 people have been killed in the past nine years of the insurgency, which started after the military-backed authorities cancelled a general election which a now disbanded Muslim fundamentalist party was poised to win.
A hospital worker in Batna, reached by telephone, said the victims were villagers who belonged to a self-defense group known by its French initials GLD, which the government armed in 1994 to thwart Islamic rebel attacks.
Last Wednesday, eight special forces policemen were killed in a similar ambush near the city of Tigzirt, about 100 km (60 miles) east of Algiers.
In the last weeks, the North African country was overwhelmed by ethnic riots when the Berber minority took to the streets to protest “the government’s suppression.”
About 80 people were killed in clashes in the Kabylie and Tizi Ouzo provinces where many Berbers live.
The Berbers have longstanding grievances over Muslim fundamentalists, cultural discrimination, unemployment and overcrowding.
The Berbers, an indigenous people in north Africa who prefer to call themselves the Imazighen, make up about a third of the population, and many resent the imposition of the Arabic language and culture – Albawaba.com
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