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Algerian Teachers Slain in Front of Pupils

North Africa: Armed with swords and guns, militants kill 12 educators. Most students flee.

September 30, 1997| From Associated Press

ALGIERS — They grabbed one teacher by the hair and sliced her throat with a sword, sending blood gushing from her neck, witnesses said. Before the spasm of violence was complete, the militants had slashed and shot 11 other teachers to death--as disbelieving and petrified students looked on.

Most of the students at Ain Adden School fled the eight attackers during the weekend assault, but not before they heard the attackers shout, "Blood, blood, blood, destruction, destruction, destruction," a rallying cry of the Armed Islamic Group. The group has been waging a terror campaign to destabilize the government.

The victims were among 31 civilians slain in two weekend attacks, while security forces killed 11 members of the Armed Islamic Group.

While militants have targeted schools with bombings and have killed some schoolgirls who refused to wear veils, Saturday's school massacre in Sfizef, a village 275 miles southwest of Algiers, was the first of its type during the 5 1/2-year-old Muslim insurgency.

The attackers, who were disguised in various uniforms and arrived in a van, also killed a driver and three school administrators.

"First I thought they were police, but then I saw one of them take out a sword," Fatiha Boubekri, a 14-year-old student, said Monday. "He grabbed my teacher by the hair to cut her throat, the blood spurted toward the sky, and I fainted."

On Friday, militants attacked El Hadj, a village 120 miles south of Algiers, killing 15 people, travelers who requested anonymity said upon arriving Monday in Algiers.

The gang mutilated the bodies before leaving, and they left behind a note claiming the attack for the Armed Islamic Group, known by its French initials, GIA.

Meanwhile, the army carried out a weekend attack on GIA strongholds. Troops killed 11 GIA members in the Algiers suburb of Oulel Allel, neighboring residents said on condition of anonymity. There was no word on army casualties.

More than 500 civilians have died in attacks blamed on the Armed Islamic Group in the past month.

The militants are seeking to topple the government and establish a state based on Islamic law.

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