President Chadli Bendjedid, in a speech delivered hours after troops fired machine guns into a crowd of more than 10,000 in the capital, promised that reforms will be made. Witnesses to the shootings said 25 to 30 people were killed.

Making his first public appearance since violence erupted a week ago, the president said Monday night he was "bitterly sorry for the material and human losses" in the street violence."My duty as the person with supreme responsibility for this country was to make the decisions necessary to protect the nation, whatever the circumstances and whatever the difficulties," the president said in a national radio and television speech.

"We have the courage to recognize our mistakes and to restore the situation. I would like you to help me."

Hours before Bendjedid's speech was broadcast, troops machine-gunned a crowd of more than 10,000 in the Algiers district of Bab-el-Oued.

Dozens of others were wounded, some very seriously. One witness said there were bodies lying around everywhere.

The government has provided no casualty figures, but reliable reports from police, hospitals and other sources indicate that as many as 300 have died in the week of unrest.