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17 Die in Algerian Massacre

Violence: Victims are mostly female. No one claims responsibility.

December 09, 2001|From Associated Press

ALGIERS — Assailants shot and killed 17 people, including 10 children, in the worst outbreak of violence in Algeria since the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began, newspapers reported Saturday.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the Thursday night massacre, which the reports said also left five people wounded. Authorities normally blame such attacks on Islamic militants who have been waging a bloody insurgency for nearly a decade against the African nation's military-backed government.

Algerian newspapers said the victims were all members of the same extended family in the town of Arib, in the Ain Defla region about 100 miles west of the capital, Algiers.

The victims ranged in age from 5 to 66, and most of them were female.

Most of the men in the family were in town or returning from the mosque after evening prayers at the time of the massacre, the reports said.

A large number of armed men separated into groups and attacked several homes, the reports said.

In the past, Algeria's militants have carried out more attacks during Ramadan. This year, the holy month, which began Nov. 16, had been relatively calm, with only 50 killings reported before Thursday night's massacre.

An estimated 130,000 people have been killed in Algeria's insurgency, which began after the army canceled 1992 national elections that Muslim fundamentalists appeared likely to win.

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