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Algerian Islamic Militants Blamed for Dozens of Recent Deaths - 2003-01-09

Islamic militants in Algeria are being blamed for more than 100 deaths since January 1. In the latest incident reported in the Algerian press, the militants killed eight soldiers in an attack east of Algiers.

The newspapers Le Matin and La Depeche de Kabylie reported two bombs were detonated by remote control late Tuesday, killing soldiers in Tizi Ouzou, about 100 kilometers east of the Algerian capital, Algiers.

According to the newspaper accounts, the attack came as the soldiers were searching for members of the radical Salafist Group for Call and Combat in the Kabylie region. The group is believed responsible for an attack Saturday in which 43 soldiers were killed.

The papers also report that several al-Qaida members are believed to be hiding in the Kabylie area.

Another terrorist movement in Algeria, the Armed Islamic Group, has been blamed for two attacks in recent days that killed 20 members of three families.

Algeria has been racked by violence since early 1992, when authorities cancelled a parliamentary election that radical Islamists were poised to win. More than 120,000 people have been killed in the resulting civil strife since then.

Meanwhile, Algeria's government-run Saout al Ahrar newspaper reports the army will soon receive its first shipment of advanced weaponry from the United States. The newspaper says the army needs the weaponry to counter bolder and bloodier attacks by militants.