The four men were killed by an Algerian army unit, which ambushed them near Sidi-Daud in the Bumirdis region, 50km east of Algiers on Friday, the Algerian press said on Sunday.
  
The rebels, suspected of being part of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), were believed to be behind several killings, including members of the security forces in Sidi-Daud and neighbouring areas, reports said.

The four were said to belong to a bomb-making unit of the al-Tafjir brigade. Several weapons were also taken in the operation, including two machine guns.

Two of those killed were brothers and their killing comes a day after anti-terrorist units killed a regional GSPC leader in Cap Djinet, also in the Boumerdes province.

Gunfire exchange

A soldier was killed in the hour-long gunfire exchange, newspapers reported. 

President Abd al-Aziz Bouteflika
is pressing on with army operations

The Algerian army, supported by ground and air units, have over the past year stepped up an offensive against remaining rebel strongholds, particularly in the west and east of Algiers.

Several hundred rebels and soldiers have died in the process. 
  
Last month, about 50 people were killed in such clashes, according to official and press estimates.
  
Algeria's civil conflict has killed more than 150,000 people since 1992, but is now considered to have markedly weakened as a result of massive security operations.