Algerian security forces have arrested seven men accused of taking part in an attack by some 500 religious extremists on suspected prostitutes in Hassi Messaoud, newspapers reported Monday.
Those arrested included an imam, or Muslim prayer leader, who reportedly incited the attack during his sermon at the main mosque, the newspaper L'Authentique reported.
The knife-wielding men carried out what was termed a "punitive expedition" against the women living in poor districts of Hassi Messaoud, a major oil center where many foreign workers live, on Friday.
Twenty women had their faces slashed in the attack, press reports said.
The city, located some 800 kilometers (500 miles) southeast of Algiers, was calm but tense following the raid, Monday newspapers reported.
Press reports said the unmarried women, some of them widows with small children, had come to the city from the north in search of employment and were working as domestic servants.
In the sermon they were accused of having "loose morals." – ALGIERS (AFP)
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