Algiers cinema blast kills 2 and injures 20


TWO people were killed and 20 more were injured when a bomb blast ripped through a cinema in the centre of Algiers yesterday.

The blast in the Sinbad Cinema, near one of the main thoroughfares of the Algeria capital, took place at about 3 p.m. in the middle of a screening, security officials said.

Witnesses said they saw many injured being taken away. An AFP correspondent counted at least 10 injured removed to hospital. The area was sealed off by security forces.

The explosion marked the anniversary of the coming to power of Houari Boumedienne in 1965, and June 19th is a public holiday in Algeria. Earlier this month, one person was killed and 24 others injured in a bomb blast in another cinema in central Algiers.

Yesterday's explosion came as El Khabar reported that Islamic rebels had killed 26 people, including at least three women and six children, in the regions surrounding Algiers.

An armed group slit the throats of 15 villagers in Djouaza, in the Tissemsilt region south-west of Algiers, before dawn on Monday, the newspaper said.

Eleven people were murdered by "terrorists", the term used by authorities to describe armed Islamic extremists, near Bechar, 800 km south-west of the capital. It took place on an unspecified dale.

The attackers stripped the bodies of their belongings and made off with the truck the victims were using to transport cattle and foodstuffs to the mountains on the Algerian-Moroccan border, El Khabar reported.

In the attack on the Djouaza village, in the Ouarsenis mountain range, an unspecified number of armed Islamic extremists forced all the men out of their homes and ordered the women to leave the village, most of whom refused.

They bound the men, led everyone out of the village and slit their victims' throats one by one. They also killed three women and six children, the youngest of whom was just four months old, El Khabar said.

According to witnesses, the villagers had been threatened with death if they voted in the parliamentary election on June 5th.

Security forces swept the Ouarsenis region last month in a massive police operation aimed at flushing out armed groups. Ten armed rebels were killed during another security force's operation in the western region of Tlemcen, the newspaper reported. They also destroyed a cache of tents and foodstuffs and seized arms.