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In 1997, the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria beheaded 200 villagers in Benthalia.

More than 200 civilians in Algeria were executed with guns and crude weapons in Benthalia but there is no conclusive evidence on the attackers.

More than 200 civilians in Algeria were executed with guns and crude weapons in Benthalia but there is no conclusive evidence on the attackers.In 1997, Algeria was at the peak of a brutal civil conflict that had begun after the military's cancellation of 1992 elections set to be won by the Islamic Salvation Front(FIS). The catalyst for the international outcry was a series of large-scale massacres, officially attributed to armed Islamist groups but with disturbing evidence suggesting possible collusion with the security forces.

On the night from Sept. 22 to 23, the area of Bentalha in Algeria’s eastern suburbs was the victim of an attack by several dozen assailants. Officially, 85 citizens were killed, while survivors and hospital sources reported about 400 dead and 120 wounded. There, too, trucks were used to transport the armed men who systematically searched for precise individuals.

The attackers who killed over 250 people at Bentalha on the night of Sept. 23, 1997, entered the community on foot through orange groves, but according to at least one account, some also arrived in open-backed trucks. The attackers reportedly exhibited cruelty. In addition to guns, they used crude weapons such as knives and saws to behead or disembowel men, women, and children. The attackers sometimes abducted women, sexually assaulted, and enslaved them. The extent of the practice was difficult to gauge. Even after the arrival of the army, police, and communal guard on the village's perimeter, the killers were reportedly able to load spoils into trucks before departing unchallenged.

However, the questions surrounding the massacres received no conclusive answers, as no independent Algerian body had conducted a thorough inquiry. The government allowed no international human rights organization or U.N. human rights rapporteur to investigate the violence.

The government presumed that an outlawed militant organization called the Armed Islamic Group is responsible for deadly attacks on civilians in Algiers and outlying communities.

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