The violence that convulsed Algeria earlier this month left 159 people dead and 154 injured, according to the Interior Ministry.

Unofficial estimates by medical workers during the uprising that began Oct. 4 in Algeria put the number of dead at up to 500. Most of the deaths reportedly resulted from troops firing into crowds of demonstrators.The Information Ministry had said 176 died in rioting that spread to Oran and other cities. The unrest ended Oct. 12 when the president announced a referendum on reform measures, set for Nov. 3. No explanation was given for the difference in the death estimates.

The unrest, spurred by Algeria's economic crisis, began with demonstrators protesting food shortages and rising prices. They demanded an end to President Chadli Bendjedid's austerity program.

Algeria, whose economy is run on a Soviet-style, centrally directed system, has been hurt by the fall in oil prices. About 95 percent of the North African country's income is dervied from oil and gas.