ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Raiders slashed the throats of 20 villagers south of Algiers on Sunday, the worst attack yet in a bloody weekend of massacres, ambushes and bombings blamed on Islamic insurgents.
In Brussels, European foreign ministers were gathering for a strategy session on ending the slaughter of civilians in the North African nation — but the Algerian military regime’s resistance to outside interference means the diplomats’ options are limited.
Attacks timed to the Islamic holy month of Ramadan — now in its closing days — have killed about 1,850, according to independent reports.
Security forces, frequently accused of letting the insurgents massacre at will, clashed with militant bands at least three times in recent days, killing 29 rebels, according to Algerian newspapers.
Security forces announced the latest civilian massacre in a terse statement. Sunday’s attack hit residents of the village of Frenda, 190 miles south of Algiers, the capital, the military said.
It was a variation from the government’s long-standing policy of ignoring or minimizing attacks in the insurgency, now in its seventh year. The regime announced its first-ever death toll for the insurgency last week, saying 26,536 people had died.
Press estimates put the toll at three times higher, or more.
Other attacks since Thursday claimed at least 45 victims, including three people killed when a bomb exploded at a cafe south of Algiers on Saturday night.
Four more bombs in the area around the capital claimed seven lives. A fifth bomb exploded prematurely as it was being transported to a mosque outside of Algiers, killing the two young people carrying it.
Other killings included two attacks on villages west of Algiers. Armed groups slaughtered seven people at one village and 10 members of a single family at the other, according to accounts from survivors and newspapers.