ALGERIA army out to get gunmen
A source said, the army managed to dismantle bombs and mines planted by the gunmen to prevent the troops' advance and destroyed hideouts for the gunmen in which they seized ammunition and food stuffs.
ALGIERS, Algeria, May 23 (UPI) -- The Algerian army has massed more than 8,000 troops in eastern Algeria to chase some 50 Muslim extremist gunmen hiding in the rugged Skikda mountains.
French-language daily L'expression quoted a security source as saying Tuesday that the army command ordered three combing operations in the region, 312 miles east of Algiers, in search for the estimated 50 members of the extremist group named the Free Salafi Gamaa.
The source said the army brought in special paratroopers and military helicopters as well as heavy arms to reach the back positions of the group which was established in 2000 and rejects the government's peace and reconciliation pact to end violence in the country.
"The group has to abide by the choice of the people by accepting the policy of peace or face death," the source said.
He said the army managed to dismantle bombs and mines planted by the gunmen to prevent the troops' advance and destroyed hideouts for the gunmen in which they seized ammunition and food stuffs.
President Abdelaziz Boutefliqa threatened resisting armed groups rejecting the peace pact which was endorsed by the majority of the Algerian people in a referendum last year that he will fight them in case they did not surrender within a period of six months which expires at the end of July.
According to government figures some 700 to 800 gunmen are still resisting the peace pact and hiding in remote mountains, while their number was more than 27,000 at the beginning of civil violence in 1992.
Von: 23.05.2006, http://www.upi.com