Algerian leader vows to continue emergency state

February 17, 1992|By Los Angeles Times

ALGIERS, Algeria -- Up to 6,000 Algerians have been arrested in the government's crackdown on Islamic fundamentalists, and President Mohamed Boudiaf vowed yesterday to continue the state of emergency in the face of a growing wave of attacks by armed militants against government forces.

"We have to save Algeria, and this is a consideration beyond any consideration," Mr. Boudiaf said.

At least eight people died in incidents over the weekend.

Mr. Boudiaf said that between 5,000 and 6,000 Algerians are now in detention camps authorized under the state of emergency, and he promised to continue the clampdown until stability is restored.

"All those who cause trouble to public order will be put in the camps," the 72-year-old veteran of Algeria's war of independence from France declared.

Mr. Boudiaf also vowed to prevent the use of religion as a basis for political power, a process that began when Algeria became the first Arab country to legalize an Islamic political party. "The mosques have become rostrums for controlling people," he said.

The Islamic Salvation Front has not been heard from since it quietly canceled a massive public march that had been scheduled to follow weekly prayers on Friday. But hundreds of Islamic students marched yesterday at the University of Algiers to protest the government crackdown, waving Korans in the air and shouting, "Boudiaf assassin!"

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