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  •   Fourteen Killed in Algerian Bomb Blast

    Violence in Algeria has left tens of thousands dead since January 1992. (Post Graphic)
    Thursday, Dec. 3, 1998; 8:03 a.m. EST

    ALGIERS, Dec 3 — At least 14 Algerians were killed and 24 wounded in a bomb explosion on Thursday near a market in the town of Khemis Miliana southwest of Algiers, government security forces said.

    The toll brought to at least 37 the number of Algerians reported killed in the past four days in the violence-tricken North African country.

    The bloodshed appeared to fall onto a gruesome pattern set in the previous four years when Moslem rebels stepped up attacks ahead and during the annual Moslem fasting month of Ramadan.

    Ramadan will be observed this year during the second half of December and first part of January, depending on the sighting of the moon.

    Moslem rebels consider Ramadan an auspicious period for what they call their holy war.

    About 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed during the last Ramadan in massacres and bombings the government blamed on Moslem rebels.

    The latest bomb went off at 11:15 a.m. (1015 GMT) near a market at Khemis Miliana in the province of Ain Defla, 130 km (80 miles) from Algiers, the government security said in a statement carried by the official Algerian news agency APS.

    The statement, blaming the bomb on Moslem rebels, said the blast toll of 14 dead and 24 wounded was provisional.

    Ain Defla is one of the main hotbeds of violence in Algeria. At least 13 people were killed and 39 others wounded on August 20 when a bomb exploded in Khemis Miliana.

    Eight people were killed two weeks ago with their throats slashed in the Ain Defla area.

    Thursday's bombing took place two days after of the massacre of 12 villagers, most of them women and children, in a rebel raid in Sidi Rached hamlet, about 60 km (37 miles) west of Algiers, according to the government security forces.

    La Tribune newspaper said on Thursday 10 Moslem rebels cut the throats of two men and a boy and then burnt their bodies at a fake roadblock on Monday in the southwestern region of Saida.

    Soldiers shot dead seven Moslem guerrillas on Wednesday in the western region of Sidi Bel Abbes, La Tribune said. A 16-year-old girl was killed on Tuesday in a bomb explosion near her family home in the eastern region of Skikda, Sawt al Ahrar newspaper said on Thursday.

    Algeria has been racked by violence since early 1992 when the authorities scrapped a general election in which radical Islamists had taken a commanding lead.

    More than 65,000 people died since then, according to Western estimates.

    © Copyright 1998 Reuters

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