Algerian troops, backed by artillery and helicopter gun-ships, besieged the mountain hideouts of Islamic militants, amid militant attacks that have killed 31 people in four days, reported The Associated Press, quoting newspapers.
Twenty-eight militants have died over the past week in the army's offensive in the mountainous Jijel region, 160 miles east of the capital of Algiers, the El Watan daily reported Sunday.
The report said army artillery pounded paths leading to the hideouts in the Collo Mountains, from which the militants have carried out attacks on civilians and soldiers as part of a campaign of terror to establish a fundamentalist regime in Algeria.
In one such attack in the Jijel region on Thursday, militants killed four civilians by cutting their throats, the Liberte newspaper said Sunday.
Another attack claimed the lives of five civilians, whose cars were stopped at a roadblock erected by militants, about 280 miles west of Algiers, the paper said. Three had their throats slit, and the two others were shot, it said.
The paper also reported that three soldiers died and seven more were wounded in an ambush on Friday by militants near Azzaba, 220 miles east of the capital.
Another newspaper, Le Matin, on Sunday reported four more civilians deaths, as well as the killings of two members of a local defense group.
Approximately 1,300 people have died in the past six months, and 100,000 have been killed since 1992, when the militants began an offensive campaign after the government canceled elections that a now-banned Islamic fundamentalist party was set to win, said the agency - Albawaba.com
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