It opened in December and, two months later, following complaints from locals, was ordered to close. Despite this, the authorities fail to respond to almost all applications from churches, including EPA affiliates. But the churches have cited the constitution, which states that religious freedom is guaranteed if in compliance with the law.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Authorities in Tizi Ouzou province — km east of the capital, Algiers — have said a law that regulates non-Muslim worship is breached by churches meeting in houses meant only for accommodation or commercial purposes. A hard core of several hundred al Qaeda-linked rebels fight on in Kabylie from remote bases in dense forests. The authorities had feared an Islamic revolution. At the time, a pastor of a Protestant church in the capital, Algiers, said the law is used as a tool of persecution by the authorities. They have said that they are complying with the law because of their formal affiliation with the Protestant Church of Algeria EPA , which has been officially recognised by the government since and is accredited with both the ministry of the interior and the local government. Because of the long-standing difficulty faced by Algerian churches, it has become standard practice to rent premises and inform the local authorities they have done so. One of the churches, in the commune of Ait Bouadou, uses a house that was leased on behalf of the EPA. But the churches have cited the constitution, which states that religious freedom is guaranteed if in compliance with the law. Despite this, the authorities fail to respond to almost all applications from churches, including EPA affiliates. Al Qaeda said it was behind suicide bombings in Dellys town, east of Algiers, on September 8 and a suicide blast in southeast Batna town on September 6 that killed a total of 57 people. Residents say bomb wounds several in Algerian village 11 November The death toll from political violence fell to 60 in October from 75 in September, although casualties among rebels grew as government forces stepped up raids on al Qaeda hideouts, according to a Reuters count based on newspaper reports. Several Christians have received fines and suspended prison sentences under the law, including Christian teacher Habiba Kouider, who was charged in for the illegal possession of bibles. Further details were not immediately available about the blast in the village of Maatkas in the Kabylie region east of the capital. A small home-made bomb exploded in front of a police station in Zemmouri town about 30 miles east of Algiers on Sept 14, killing three people and wounding five. It opened in December and, two months later, following complaints from locals, was ordered to close. The church of more than people continues to meet while its leader seeks legal advice. Up to , people are estimated to have been killed. The church has submitted documents to the authorities, showing its affiliation to the EPA, and continues to meet. The north African OPEC member country is recovering from more than a decade of violence that began in when the then army-backed government scrapped legislative elections that a radical Islamic party was poised to win. HRWF database of news and information on over 70 countries: Algeria's violence had fallen since the s, but in the past 12 months it has regained some of its former intensity, particularly in the mountainous Kabylie region.
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