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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow to Probe Deaths of Russians in Algeria

Russia has asked Algeria to investigate the killing of four Russians and boost security for Russian citizens working there, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday.

Sources close to Algerian security forces said Monday that Islamic militants had murdered the four while they were picking mushrooms in a forest. It was the first killing of foreigners in Algeria for nearly two years.

Spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov had telephoned his Algerian counterpart, Abdelaziz Belkhadem, immediately after hearing of the killings.

"In his telephone discussion, he requested an urgent inquiry to find out the reasons for these murders and of course to punish those guilty," Yakovenko told state-owned RTR television.

"At the same time, a request was made to the Algerian side to increase security for Russian citizens working in Algeria."

A Foreign Ministry statement said the Algerian minister had expressed his country's condolences over the killings and said the authorities would do all they could to catch the killers.

The bodies of the four, engineers at a state fertiliser firm, were found on Monday in a forest near Oued el Aneb village in the Annaba area, some 400 km east of Algiers.

Russian diplomats had alerted the authorities on Sunday after the men failed to return from an outing, the sources said.

The North African country has been hit by a bloody Islamist insurgency in which more than 100,000 people have been killed since 1992, when the military-backed government cancelled elections Islamists were poised to win.

More than 100 foreigners, other Russians among them, have been killed since early 1993, when Islamist guerrillas began to attack foreigners in a bid to embarrass the government and cut off badly needed foreign investment outside the heavily protected oil and gas sector.