President Chadli Bendjedid declared a state of emergency in Algeria early today and announced the resignation of Prime Minister Mouloud Hamrouche and his government, a statement on national television said. Armored vehicles were seen crossing the main intersection in downtown Algiers at 2 a.m. today, apparently headed toward quarters that are strongholds of Moslem fundamentalists. Security reinforcements had been posted around Algiers and other cities nearly two weeks ago. Officials had said they were intended to prevent election violence.
The fundamentalists have held violent protests for nearly two weeks, part of a move by the Islamic Salvation Front to gain an Islamic state in Algeria.
In the worst violence, on Tuesday, at least seven people were reported killed in clashes between police and stone-throwing demonstrators of the Islamic Salvation Front, which has defied orders to halt protests.
The group was the overwhelming victor in the June 1990 municipal elections. It had sought presidential elections to replace Bendjedid at the same time as the June 27 parliamentary elections. The elections were postponed by Bendjedid in today's decree.
The vote was to have been the first multiparty parliament election in Algeria since the country gained independence from France in 1962.
Hamrouche's government had been in office since September 1989.
On Tuesday, clouds of tear gas hung over Algiers as police repeatedly charged tens of thousands of marchers. About 700 people were admitted to hospitals for treatment of respiratory ailments.