|Plague kills dozens in al-Qaeda hideout|
09:00 AEST Tue Jan 20 2009
7 hours 58 minutes ago
At least 40 al-Qaeda operatives hiding in secret North African training tunnels have been killed by the Black Death, reports say.
The disease — which wiped out 25 million people throughout Europe during the 14th century — has swept through training camps in Algeria and killed 40 insurgents,The Sun newspaper reports.
The arrival of the killer virus was discovered by security forces who found a plague-affected corpse by the roadside.
Officials said the victim belonged to one of the most powerful and largest terrorist groups outside the Middle East: AQLIM (al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb).
It is believed the epidemic began in secret underground hideouts in Tizi Ouzou, 150km east of the capital Algiers.
The Sun reports that the group using the hideout was so terrified of the plague spreading that they dumped diseased bodies there before fleeing the area.
"The emirs (leaders) fear surviving terrorists will surrender to escape a horrible death," a source was quoted as saying.
The Black Death, also known as the Bubonic Plague, spreads from the bites of infected rat fleas.
Painful boils in the groin, neck and armpits are some symptoms of the disease.
It is named the Black Death because it also causes red spots on the skin which eventually darken.
There were three non-fatal cases of the plague in the US and Peru last year.