Trial of Algeria Islamists for civil war murders opens

The trial of two Algerian Islamists accused of killing 500 people, including the rape and murder of 60 women, during the country's brutal civil war, opened in Algiers Sunday, an AFP correspondent said.

Antar Ali and Djilali Kouri have admitted to investigators they joined a group of Islamist fighters in the Chlef region, west of the capital Algiers, in 1997 during the country's civil war.

The pair have confessed to killing soldiers and members of auxiliary units in northern Algeria, as well as taking part in the rape and murder of scores of women, the Algerian press has reported.

Originally the trial had been set for April 1 but Antar Ali rejected the lawyer appointed to his defence by the court, causing the hearing to be postponed.

A savage civil war broke out in Algeria in 1992 after the government annulled an election won by the Islamic Salvation Front, killing around 200,000 people according to official estimates.