At least five soldiers were killed and 10 others injured in northern Algeria when an Islamic fundamentalist group ambushed the vehicle they were travelling in, press reports said Tuesday.
The attack took place Monday afternoon near Tigzirt, 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of Algiers.
The soldiers were going to the aid of other soldiers whose military post in the nearby bush had come under attack from an armed group.
As their vehicle went over four homemade bombs, the soldiers came under fire from their attackers. Five soldiers were killed and another 10 injured.
One of the assailants was also killed.
After the attack, helicopter gunships pounded the area, a stronghold of the hardline Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which has rejected President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's moves towards national reconciliation.
In separate attacks blamed on Islamic fundamentalists, a civilian guard was killed Sunday and his head cut off in the Kabylie region.
Also Sunday, one person was killed and another injured at a fake roadblock set up in the Ain Defla region, 160 kilometers (100 miles) west of Algiers.
Government troops killed six armed Islamists Sunday in two operations: one in the Tenes region 200 kilometers (120 miles) west of Algiers, the other near Mascara, 300 kilometers (180 miles) southwest of the capital, the press said.
Violence has increased in Algeria since the beginning of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. More than 110 people have been killed since Ramadan started on November 27.
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.
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)
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