Algeria: To the Wall

To the French soldiers who opposed him during Algeria's war of independence, Colonel Mohammed Chaabani was "the seigneur of the sands." A tough, canny guerrilla leader, he dominated a sere swatch of the Sahara and the rugged Aurès Mountains of northeastern Algeria. After independence, Chaabani joined Premier Ahmed ben Bella's Politburo and the army's general staff, but quickly grew restive under Ben Bella's heavy-handed Marxist dictatorship. Last June that uneasiness boiled over into open rebellion, and Chaabani took to the hills with a hard core of his veteran troops.

Equipped with armored cars, tanks and artillery, Chaabani's force posed a...

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