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ARMY REPORTEDLY KILLS 600 ISLAMIC REBELS

Elite army troops reportedly killed more than 600 extremist guerrillas gathered for a secret meeting, in what would be the largest known battle of their 3-year-old civil war.

The army moved in on the Islamic rebels in the rugged woods west of Algiers, the newspaper Le Soir reported Sunday, citing unnamed sources.

The extremists belong to the radical Armed Islamic Group, which had gathered 1,000 of its guerrillas for a meeting, Le Soir reported. That group has claimed responsibility for some of the most spectacular operations of the insurgency, including the Christmas Eve hijacking of an Air France plane.

El Watan, an independent newspaper, reported Sunday that a five-day operation against the rebels had ended after more than 300 extremists had been killed. The army claimed an informant said the rebels were plotting massacres of villages, El Watan reported.

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