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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Algerian Militants Butcher 18 At Fake Military Checkpoint

ALGIERS, Algeria -- Dozens of Moslem militants set up a fake military checkpoint, then shot and hacked to death 18 people in the mountains of northwestern Algeria, a newspaper reported Tuesday.


The slayings, which took place overnight Sunday, lasted over a five-hour period at the checkpoint set up near the town of Saida, 400 kilometers southwest of Algiers, the independent daily El Khabar reported.


Witnesses who returned to Algiers said they saw about 60 well-armed militants at the checkpoint, blocking the road with two heavy trucks.


There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion fell on the Armed Islamic Group. Known by its initials GIA, the group has set up fake checkpoints in the past to kill young military conscripts.


Of the 18 victims, 17 were less than 25 years old, the newspaper said. The government, which has downplayed Moslem militant violence, did not report the massacre.


A home-made bomb exploded Monday in a crowded marketplace south of the Algerian capital, killing one person and leaving at least 20 injured in the stampede that followed, witnesses said on condition of anonymity. No one claimed responsibility for the attack at Boufarik, 40 kilometers south of Algiers.


Meanwhile, media reports said Monday that 18 other civilians had been killed by armed groups in the same general region since Thursday. The reports blamed Moslem militants for the deaths.


The GIA, one of the two most powerful armed groups backing the Islamic fundamentalists' fight against the Algerian government, renewed its call for violence Monday.


In a statement issued to the London-based independent Arabic language El Hayat newspaper, the group said it would "continue to wage its battle against the Algerian government.''