Algerian rebels slaughtered in raid

Something very bloody has occurred in Algeria's "war without mercy", an unprecedented slaughter at Ain Defla, a market town a hundred miles from Algiers on the road to Chlef. A stunning success against "terrorism" if you believe the Algerian government, a massacre if you believe the "Islamists".

In Algiers, they say that all around Ain Defla, a fundamentalist stronghold below the Oarsenis mountains, doctors have been called to hospitals to deal with hundreds of dead or dying, Algerian soldiers as well as Islamist gunmen, although the authorities say that all 600 of the dead are opponents of the military-backed government.

There are, as so often in the Algerian countryside - and in the bled in which the French fought their fruitless war more than three decades ago - no independent witnesses.

But it now seems clear that a government informer working within the Islamic Armed Group, the fiercest of the Muslim insurgent movements, tipped off the authorities in Algiers of a 1,000-strong conference of Islamist militants to be held in Ain Defla and that the Algerian army ambushed their enemies with helicopter gunships and heavy artillery as they gathered for their meeting.

One rumour sweeping Algiers yesterday spoke of the razing of the entire town of Ain Defla, another of day-long pitched battles in the villages around the town, hitherto famous only as the site of the Roman city of Oppidum Novum.

What is certain is that many hundreds have died - perhaps as many as a thousand - and that the government has yet to reveal the number of army casualties.

The fighting appears to have begun a week ago when military units ambushed a group of Islamists in what the government described as a "convoy" travelling in the direction of Algiers.

Algiers newspapers have hailed the battle as the Islamists' worst defeat in an area which they have controlled for many months - in itself an admission of the insurgents' control over the Algerian countryside - and reported that helicopter gunships had pursued fleeing guerrillas into the mountains, the old highlands in which the FLN fought the French army in the 1954- 62 Algerian war of independence.

General Said Bey, the commander of Algeria's First Military Sector, personally directed the army units in the sweep at Ain Defla which has left so many dead.

Nor has the battle been the only bloodshed in Algeria over the past week. Further reports speak of the discovery of a large number of corpses in a well near the town of Boufarik, 15 miles south of Algiers. The deaths were attributed to Islamist armed groups, although no details were available on how the bodies were found nor the reason for the killings.

Attacks on motorway and railway bridges are now going on nightly, although without - so far - seriously hindering road communications and rail links in the country.

If Algerian government statements are to be taken seriously, the war against the Islamists will be concluded before presidential elections, which, according to the Algerian Foreign Minister, Mohamed Salah Dembri, will "probably" be held in December.

The military-backed government is now promising to follow the prsidentielles with parliamentary elections, the first since the poll that was cancelled more than three years ago - an election which would have been won by the Islamic Salvation Front and whose annulment led to the current war.

Suggested Topics
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released the first teaser trailer a week early after it leaked online

Extras
indybest
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
News
i100
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Life and Style
health
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: The Job:TEACHERS REQUIREDWe are...

Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are currently...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£60 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Special Needs Teaching Assistant ...

Year 4 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is urgently recruiting...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?