Massacre in Algeria leaves 11 dead, 8 injured


An armed group killed 11 people and wounded eight in a port town near Oran in western Algeria, in the worst massacre in years in the region, security services said today.

The victims were attacked in the town of Arzew during a Muslim funeral vigil at dusk last night, said the sources, adding that the attackers - believed to be Islamic fundamentalists - were among those injured.

Four people were seriously wounded.

Dressed in combat uniform, the attackers arrived at the funeral, held in a specially-erected tent, only to be greeted by the family who thought the gunmen were paying a sympathy visit.

The introductions had barely begun when the group opened fire, killing six people and wounding nine others. One of the wounded succumbed later to his injuries.

The group then quickly withdrew to attack an isolated house nearby where they killed two young girls, a woman and a young conscript on leave, according to sources.

Interior Minister Yazid Zerhouni arrived today at the scene to find that people had armed themselves for protection.

The killings in the Oran region, 450 kilometres west of Algiers, were part of escalating violence across Algeria which has claimed 170 lives over the past three weeks, according to a tally by local newspapers and officials. Algiers and its surrounding areas, normally shielded from unrest, have also been targeted recently.