EU Enters Algeria's Killing Fields

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ALGIERS: A European Union delegation began talks with Algeria Tuesday, prodded by a growing suspicion that government hardliners are complicit in the slaughter of as many as 1,100 civilians there in the past month. Allegations of government involvement were amplified last week when two Algerian policemen told a British newspaper they had participated, under orders, in massacres of civilians.

The scale of the carnage has prompted Europe to reluctantly reverse its hands-off position on the conflict: “An outright civil war in Algeria could easily spill over into France, where hundreds of thousands of Algerians currently live,” says TIME correspondent William Dowell. “And the new killings are likely cause a flood of refugees into Europe.”

Of course France is implicitly involved already, and not simply as the former colonial power. “There’s good reason to believe that the French were advising the Algerians when the military took power and stopped the elections in 1992,” says Dowell. “The advice didn’t work.”