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Popular Singer Slain in Algeria

June 25, 1998

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) _ A popular singer who had recently returned to Algeria after years in exile was killed today in the country’s 6-year-old Muslim insurgency.

Lounes Matoub, 42, who survived an earlier kidnapping by Muslim militants, was killed near his Berber hometown of Oued Aissi in eastern Algeria.

Algerian state radio said only that he was ``cowardly assassinated,″ without detailing the circumstances. A spokeswoman for Triomphe records in Paris, which carries Lounes, said the attack occurred as singer drove out of the village.

Matoub, like other Berbers, had criticized both the military-backed government and Muslim militants.

Living in exile since his 1994 kidnapping, Matoub had only returned to Algeria this month. The militants have killed other artists, as well as intellectuals.

Matoub was kidnapped Sept. 25, 1994, by the Armed Islamic Group, the insurgency’s most violent movement. He was freed two weeks later with a letter from the group, demanding the Berbers support the militants.

The insurgency has left more than 75,000 people dead.

Meanwhile, security forces killed 18 Muslim militants Wednesday near the village of Sidi Lantri, 150 miles southwest of the capital Algiers.

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