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Algeria rebels kill four civilians -papers

Written by: Staff
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ALGIERS, Mar 25 (Reuters) Algerian Islamic militants killed four civilians in the worst attack since the government started carrying out an amnesty for rebels aimed at ending more than a decade of strife, newspapers reported today.

Two rebels armed with Kalashnikov rifles surprised four farmers and shot them dead on Thursday near Blida, some 50 km south of the capital Algiers, El Watan and Liberte dailies said, citing survivors.

Six government soldiers were injured yesterday in a separate attack when a home-made bomb exploded in Jijel province, 350 km east of Algiers, El Watan added.

Meanwhile, government forces killed a bombmaker for al Qaeda-linked group the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) during an operation on Thursday in Boumerdes, 50 km east of Algiers, newspapers said.

Mohamed Mayouz, 38, was shot dead in an ambush, part of a large- scale offensive on rebel strongholds.

Officials were not immediately available for comment.

Algeria began implementing an amnesty this month as part of efforts to end violence that broke out when the authorities cancelled legislative elections in 1992 that a now-banned Islamic party was poised to win. An estimated 200,000 people have been killed since.

The peace drive includes mass release of jailed Islamic militants as well as compensation for victims, including the families of about 8,000 missing people.

The amnesty gave rebels still fighting six months to surrender, provided they were not involved in massacres, rapes or bombings of public places.

The authorities have killed 17,000 militants since 1992.

Some 800 rebels are still active, the government said last week.

REUTERS KD RN1627

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