Dozens Of Algerian Rebels Killed

At least 34 Islamic insurgents were killed in two separate offensives last week against rebels in the country's east and northwest, an Algerian newspaper reported Saturday.

According to the French-language daily Liberte, an army search for a group of some 40 insurgents belonging to the radical Armed Islamic Group ended Thursday with the death of 14 militants in the Djebel Asfour region, near the western city of Tlemcen near the Moroccan border.

It was not known how many soldiers were killed in the operation, launched days earlier after an incursion by the group into border hamlets. Security forces have rarely reported their losses since the start of the insurgency in 1992.

About 20 insurgents were killed a week after the start of a similar offensive by security forces, backed by air cover, in the Bouira region, 75 miles east of the capital, Algiers, according to the French-language daily La Tribune.

Moroccan forces on the other side of the border seemed to be working with the Algerians to root out the rebels, which have spread terror among the region's residents, the paper La Tribune reported.

Daily violence continues in the north African country despite peace efforts by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika that featured partial amnesty for insurgents who turned themselves in by Jan. 13.

The Armed Islamic Group and a smaller group centered in the Bouira region refused the proposal.

More than 100,000 people have died since violence erupted after the army canceled legislative elections that the Islamic Salvation Front was poised to win. The Muslim fundamentalist party was subsequently banned.

On Wednesday, Islamic insurgents opened fire on a bus and killed at least 19 people after the vehicle's driver refused to stop at a rebel roadblock 50 miles south of Algiers.

The rebels then went after some victims with knives before pushing the bus into a ravine and setting it on fire with passengers still inside, local media reported.