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'10,000 lives' lost in Algeria violence

TUNIS (Reuter) - Liamine Zeroual, the President of Algeria, who is seeking a negotiated settlement to civil strife, has told opposition parties that the violence of the past two-and-a-half years has cost some 10,000 lives, far more than officially reported.

Conflict between the army-backed authorities and Islamic fundamentalists has caused damage estimated at dollars 2bn pounds 1.3bn), the President told party leaders. The figures were published by the National Liberation Front two days after its secretary-general, Abdelhamid Mehri, took part in a meeting with President Zeroual. The authorities have reported about 4,000 deaths in attacks and clashes since a multi-party parliamentary election, that Muslim fundamentalists were on the brink of winning, was abruptly scrapped in early 1992.