NORTH AFRICA: Goats, Gazelles & Guerrillas

Out of the southern Algerian garrison town of Colomb-Béchar one morning last week crept a strange train on an expensive errand. Its locomotive, heavily armored, was preceded by six freight cars loaded with sandbags. Its average speed on its way to Ain-Sefra, another garrison town 170 miles to the northeast, was a hesitant 13 m.p.h. Whenever it reached a bridge, invariably a bridge thrown up temporarily by French Army engineers—it slowed down to a walk.

Slow and unprepossessing as it was, the Colomb-Béchar-Ain-Sefra Express was a valiant symbol of what Frenchmen like to call "the French presence" in Algeria. Conceived...

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