80 die in Algerian massacres




By Mark Huband in Cairo

Financial Times, 7 April 1997

Algeria has suffered one of its bloodiest outbursts of violence during two days of slaughter which left around 80 civilians dead, two Algerian newspapers reported yesterday.

Killers armed with axes, chainsaws, hammers, knives and Kalashnikov assault rifles attacked villages to the south and south-west of Algiers last Thursday and Friday, the El Watan and Liberte newspapers reported.

In one of the worst single attacks of Algeria’s five-year civil conflict, 52 people were killed in the village of Thalit, 45m south-west of Algiers. In a separate attack at Amroussa village, 30m south of Algiers, 15 people were hacked to death.

“The assailants broke into seven houses and cut up 15 people, including seven women and three children, with a chainsaw,” said one witness. “My neighbour hid under a car but was spotted. They set fire to the vehicle and he couldn’t get out. He died there,” the witness said.

A third attack took place at Sidi Naamane, in Tizi-Ouzou province, 60m east of Algiers, where it was reported five people had their throats cut. Another attack left four members of the same family dead with their throats cut near the coastal town of Moretti, 25m west of Algiers, while another bout of slaughter left car drivers dead after being shot at a checkpoint at Beni Slimane, 60m south-east of Algiers.

The apparently co-ordinated attacks may have been in response to the deaths of up to 100 guerrillas attached to the Armed Islamic Group in a battle with the security forces near Tizi-Ouzou last week-end.

The security forces have launched several operations against cells of the armed militant groups, in an effort to encourage the country’s terrified population to vote in a June 5 general election.

© Financial Times