Algeria: THE PRISON OF BLOOD

A JAIL MASSACRE ESCALATES THE ``HIDDEN WAR' BETWEEN MUSLIM MILITANTS AND THE SECULAR GOVERNMENT

The slaughter was swift and sure. After prisoners at Serkadji, Algiers' Alcatraz, used sharpened metal bed slats to slit the throats of four guards and attempted a mass escape, government security forces--the Ninjas, as they are called--swept into the prison. When they were done with their work, at least 96 inmates, most of them Muslim militants, lay dead.

Leaders of the Algerian government tersely explained that the wholesale bloodletting last week was necessary. ``When the security forces found out [about the murder of the guards],'' said a government official, ``they had no choice but to storm the building.'' Afterward Algerian...

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