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'Algerian rebels kill 7 at fake road block'

Written by: Staff
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Algiers, Apr 24: Suspected Algerian Islamist militants killed seven people and wounded eight today at a fake road block near the eastern town of Skikda, 700 km east of Algiers, a local resident said.

The resident, who asked not to be identified, said the 1000 GMT attack was carried out by members of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), an Islamist guerrilla group on a U.S.

list of terrorist organisations.

The attackers set up a fake police road block and opened fire at an approaching truck as it slowed down. The truck was carrying mostly communal guards -- security forces recruited from the local community who work under the authority of the interior ministry.

Five communal guards and two civilians were killed.

The GSPC has said it endorses the aims of al Qaeda and Western and Algerian officials believe it has links to senior members of the global al Qaeda network.

This attack happened two weeks after Islamic rebels shouting ''God is Greatest'' killed 13 customs agents in the north African oil producer's southern desert. The government said army troops killed some of those attackers in subsequent reprisals.

The GSPC's head, Abdelmalek Droudkel, also known as Abou Mossab Abdelouadoud, has rejected President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's amnesty offer for rebels aimed at ending more than a decade of conflict in the OPEC member North African country.

Violence erupted when the military cancelled the 1992 legislative elections a radical Islamic party was poised to win. Algerian authorities had feared an Iranian style revolution. An estimated 200,000 people were killed in subsequent violence.

The amnesty gives rebels still fighting six months to surrender provided they have not been involved in massacres, rapes and bombings of public places.

Algeria has freed 2,200 jailed Islamist fighters under the amnesty since February, officials said.

Some 800 rebels are still active, the authorities said. Fewer than 100 militants have surrendered in the past few weeks, according to officials.

Reuters

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