Sadism is new creed in Algeria

Fundamentalist brutality is coming ever closer to the capital

The butchery is getting closer to Algiers. There have been atrocities aplenty in the Algerian capital but the latest mass murder of civilians confirms that the "Islamists" are striking ever closer to the city. And these new atrocities - 29 dead in just 48 hours, almost all of them decapitated with knives - prove the country's civil war is growing ever more bloody in the days following the imposition of a new constitution.

The Islamic Armed Group (GIA) is being blamed for the bloodbath in Benachour, only 30 miles from Algiers, in which whole families had their throats cut after guerrillas entered the hamlet at the weekend to avenge themselves on villagers who had dared to join the government's heavily-armed "communal guard" units. The dead included a child of six, two 13-year-old schoolgirls and a pregnant woman who was disembowelled before being beheaded.

After hours of censorship by the government - which insists the war against "terrorism" is all but over - the Algerian press is now free to report on this latest butchery, which it is doing, with customary condemnation of the GIA and the barbus - "bearded ones" who are generally held responsible. There is no hint expressed in the press of the claim by the Islamic Armed Group (AIS), the less ferocious of Algeria's two anti-government armies, that part of the GIA has been infiltrated by the country's military security service and may be deliberately staging atrocities to drive civilians into supporting the military-backed regime.

Yet it still seems inconceivable that the regular army would involve itself in such terrible deeds; however ruthless the security forces may be, soldiers have their homes in these villages. In another hamlet outside Blida, the murders were committed with what can only be described as extreme sadism. At Haouch Trab, on the road between Boufarik and Chebli, 10 civilians - including seven women and a 10-year-old boy - also had their throats cut just before 10pm on Wednesday night, two entire families wiped out by the attackers after being accused of supporting the local "communal guard". One eyewitness told Algerian journalists that the first to have her throat cut was a 25-year-old woman whose head was later cut off, tied by her hair to a pike and left by the roadside. The murderers left behind them graffiti, written in blood, on a wall: "War through war and destruction through destruction. Kouka will return."

"Kouka" was the nom-de-guerre of a local GIA leader - real name Halilat Kouk - killed by "communal guard" forces last year. At the funeral near Boufarik, army helicopters raced overhead, opening fire on the surrounding countryside in an attempt - according to the local government militia - to strike at "terrorist targets."

The ruthlessness of this war can be gauged from words as well as from blood. When Moukrane Hamoui, a journalist on the Arabic-language daily Al-Shuruq was murdered by gunmen in Algiers, the newspaper Liberte boldly headlined its story: "Day of Mourning".

A new "communique" claiming the murder and issued by the AIS, however, gloated over Hamoui's death. "An apostate working for Shuruq, which advocates vice and depravity, fell into an ambush set by the `mujahideen' who killed him and left safe and sound," the AIS announced. "Three days later, some junta [sic] newspapers declared that these `mujahideen' had been killed. We say: Produce your proof if you are telling the truth". Human rights groups are meanwhile fearful that the atrocities apparently committed by "Islamist" groups may obscure the growing evidence of fearful tortures in the basements of Algeria's police stations, including - according to consistent reports from released prisoners - the rape of women.

The Belgian authorities, for example, will be interested to know that Othmane Bousria, the Algerian they expelled in July - on the grounds that he would not be in danger if he returned to Algeria - is reported to have died in police custody at the town of Motaganem.

According to Liberte, Bousria was arrested in the second week of November while attempting to cross the Algerian-Libyan frontier, along with his young sister, on a forged Danish passport. The paper says Bousria "committed suicide" by throwing himself out of a security forces office while awaiting trial.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there