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U.N. To Probe Algerian Massacres

November 19, 1997

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Amnesty International on Tuesday accused Algerian security forces of complicity in massacres blamed on Islamic extremists and called on the United Nations to investigate the killings.

The human rights organization also charged that the United Nations was keeping silent about the Algerian violence.

``U.N. member states have turned their backs on the Algerian human rights tragedy,″ Amnesty’s secretary-general, Pierre Sane, said in a statement.

An estimated 75,000 people have been killed in the North African country since 1992. In the past year, the organization said, ``violence has taken a new and terrifying turn with the massacre of thousands of civilians.″

The insurgency began after the military canceled legislative elections that Muslim fundamentalist parties were poised to win.

``Human rights abuses by security forces, state-armed militias and armed groups calling themselves `Islamic groups’ are increasingly widespread,″ Amnesty said.

Amnesty’s report cited massacres committed in the capital, Algiers, the Blida and Medea regions and elsewhere, in which ``babies and elderly people have been hacked to death″ and pregnant women disemboweled.

The report claimed that Algerian police and security forces were often slow to respond to calls for help and often fail to investigate the massacres.

U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard noted that Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson had spoken out on the suffering in Algeria.

But Eckhard said member states were reluctant to take action because the organization is limited by its own charter in intervening in an internal crisis unless it threatens international peace.

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