Two Journalists Killed; Ultimatum Against Embassies Expires
ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) _ An Algerian radio journalist died after being shot in the head, his station said today. He was the second reporter to die in 24 hours from attacks blamed on Islamic militants.
Ali Abboud, 38, news director of the Arabic-language Channel 1, died in a hospital after he was shot Friday in the southern Algiers neighborhood of Birkhadem, the station said.
Zineddine Aliou Salah, an investigative reporter with Liberte, the country’s largest French-language newspaper, was shot and killed Friday by three men near his home south of the capital.
No arrests were reported, but suspicion fell on Muslim militants.
Twenty-six Algerian journalists have been killed and two have disappeared since May 1993, when they became targets of extremists seeking to topple the military-backed government and install an Islamic state. More than 200 reporters have fled into exile.
Aliou Salah, 35, had received a death threat from the Islamic Salvation Army, one of two main guerrilla groups that have accused journalists of supporting the government.
Algeria’s insurrection spread after fundamentalist candidates dominated first-round voting for a new National Assembly in December 1991 and the military cancelled the second round. At least 15,000 people have been killed since then.
The Islamic Salvation Army is the military wing of the popular but banned Islamic Salvation Front. The Armed Islamic Group, a more radical movement, has claimed responsibility for most killings of journalists and foreigners.
Letters supposedly signed by the group were sent to several Western diplomatic missions over the past week, threatening an assassination campaign unless they closed their embassies in Algiers by today.
The letters, however, were not signed by the group’s leader, Djamel Zitouni, as others had been in the past, and have not been authenticated.
In Rome on Friday, leaders of the Islamic Salvation Front and several legal opposition parties began a second round of talks on a possible political settlement. The Algerian government stayed away from the first round of talks in November and wasn’t expected to join this time.