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Massacre kills seven, parliament adopts prime minister’s program

August 18, 1997

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) _ A group of armed men disguised as policemen set up a false roadblock, then killed a family of seven in western Algeria, witnesses said today.

No one claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack near the city of Oran, but it bore the hallmarks of Islamic militants.

Witnesses, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said the killers had put a note on the chest of one of the victims, warning of ``new acts of punishment against the impious ones.″

The daily slaughter of civilians has continued in Algeria despite government promises to end the violence following elections in June. In the past two months, at least 750 people have been killed.

Islamic militants have been waging their insurgency since 1992, when the government canceled elections an Islamic party was set to win. Since then, more than 60,000 people have been killed.

Also Sunday in Oran, on the country’s western coast, a bomb wounded at least three people, hospital officials said. The bomb was set off across from the city’s courthouse.

In political developments, Algeria’s parliament adopted, as expected, the new three-year program of Prime Minister Mohamed Ouyahia.

The vote Sunday was the first time the government’s policies have been scrutinized by a multiparty parliament.

Parties loyal to President Liamine Zeroual, a former general, won a majority in the June 5 legislative elections.

Ouyahia, of Zeroual’s National Democratic Rally, presented a plan similar to the president’s 1995 campaign platform. Algeria is seeking to introduce free-market reforms, and the government is expected to pick up the pace of its privatization of companies in non-vital industries.

The privatization measures are likely to be accompanied by expanded social welfare guarantees aimed at helping to reduce the shock of economic reforms, which are likely to increase Algeria’s already high unemployment rate of 28 percent.

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