Student leader murdered

February 24, 1995

The leader of one of Algeria's main student unions was murdered in Algiers last week by suspected Islamic fundamentalists.

Abdelhafid Said, who was president of the General Union of Students, became the first student leader singled out for assassination since fundamentalist attacks on intellectuals began two years ago. The union called for a one-day protest strike in Algerian universities. Mr Said was the brother of a member of the National Transitional Council, M'hamed Said, who represents the GUS on the council set up as a substitute for parliament by the military-backed authorities.

Mr Said's murder came in a wave of attacks as fundamentalist groups step up their campaign during the holy month of Ramadan. The hard-line Armed Islamic Group, the GIA, warned students and academics against pursuing their activities at the start of the academic year, saying study was an obstacle to holy war. The GIA has announced its intention to make Ramadan a "month of combat and conquest".

Among those killed so far are Azzedine Medjoubi, director of the National Theatre of Algeria and Fattah Belkacem, professor of Islamic law and member of the moderate Moslem party Nahda.

The authorities in Algiers have released an official count of fundamentalist targets. In 1994, more than 80 teachers were assassinated and three university centres, nine training institutes and some 600 schools were either blown up or burned down. Hundreds of academics are among those who have fled to France.

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