Algerian security forces kill militants

16 December 2003
Algerian security forces killed three Islamist militants and arrested five others during a gun battle in western Algeria, announced government officials on 15 December. The men, all of whom were suspected of illegally manufacturing and possessing weapons, were confronted by government security forces in the Moaskar province, some 400 kilometers west of Algiers. The men are believed to belong to Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which has been linked to the Al-Qaeda network. The detainees allegedly supplied weapons to Islamist militants in the area where members of the GSPC operate.

The western region of Algeria has in the last three months seen a steep escalation in the number of militant attacks against both civilian and military targets. In late November Islamist militants killed six civilians in two separate attacks in the region. In one incident, on 24 November, two unknown gunmen attacked an isolated farm in the province of Sidi Belabbas, 450 kilometers west of Algiers, killing three members of the same family. In a second attack in the western province of Shalaf, a suspected Islamist militant shot three locals (MEED 25:11:03).

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