Insurgency by armed Muslim fundamentalists killed five people and left seven others badly wounded in Algeria, several local papers reported Saturday.
Three of those killed in incidents on Wednesday and Thursday were civilians and two were members of an armed gang tracked down by the security forces near Thenia, 50 kilometers (30 miles) east of Algiers.
Other casualties were sustained when a group of 60 extremists attacked two civilian Communal Guard posts late Wednesday at Raouda on National Highway 5, which links the capital with the east of the country.
The same evening, two motorists were killed and a third civilian badly injured when they tried to force a roadblock set up by Islamic extremists on the same stretch of highway, 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the capital.
Insurgency by fundamentalist groups has claimed at least 100,000 lives since they took up arms in 1992 after the army called off the second round of elections the Islamic Salvation Front was poised to win.
Fishmongers in Algiers said that National Highway 5 was now considered so unsafe that they were no longer getting supplies overnight because fishermen from Annaba and other eastern towns would not run the risk of false checkpoints modeled on those of the security forces.
The killings reported on Saturday bring the death toll to nine since the start on Monday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, while a total of 110 people, including about 40 insurgents, were killed in November, on the basis of press reports.
Ramadan has long been feared because Islamists opposed to the secular authorities consider it an auspicious time for their "holy war", but in spite of ongoing residual violence, AFP correspondents reported that people in many regions were more relaxed this year.
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in July 1999 offered a six-month amnesty on specific conditions to armed groups, which led hundreds of fighters to turn themselves in. He has ordered the security forces to crack down mercilessly on those who failed to take up the offer – ALGIERS (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )