LETTER: Blame on all sides in Algerian war

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Sir: Randhir Singh Bains (letter, 7 February) is correct to say that Amnesty International is accusing the Algerian security forces of gross violations of human rights. He is not correct in suggesting that we do not condemn human rights abuses by armed opposition groups.

Throughout the past three years, both the Algerian security forces and armed Islamist groups have acted with total disregard for international and humanitarian law, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths. Amnesty International has been consistently critical of all sides in the conflict responsible for political killings, torture and arbitrary detention.

Just last week, we strongly condemned the bombing outside Algiers' central police station, which killed dozens of people and injured hundreds of others. There can be no justification for such crimes. We have repeatedly called on armed opposition group leaders to put an end to such abuses, and urged FIS leaders to condemn publicly the killing and hostage-taking of civilians.

However it is not our job, as Mr Bains implies, to "highlight the plight of the Algerian elite". Our job is to highlight the plight of all victims of human rights abuses. Yours, David Bull Director, Amnesty International British Section London, EC1

7 February

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