Security sources on Wednesday said they had also confiscated Kalashnikov rifles and ammunition in a military offensive some 400 km west of the capital Algiers a day earlier.

   

Violence has intensified in recent weeks with the deaths of some 40 people, mostly military, in separate incidents across the oil-rich North African country.

   

However, the more general trend over the last few years has been a decrease in politically-motivated violence.

 

The rebellion began when an Islamist political party launched a major offensive in 1992 after the military cancelled elections the group was set to win.

   

Human rights groups estimate that more than 150,000 people have died since the early 1990s.