More than 3,700 women have been killed in Algerian attacks, including massacres of villagers, in the past six years, an Algerian newspaper said on Wednesday.

La Nouvelle Republique daily said the women died in Moslem rebel attacks and 500 others had been kidnapped. The paper said another 300 women had been raped by rebels in the course of attacks on villages.It gave no source for its figures nor did it indicate whether the 500 kidnapped were abused or were still missing. Many women, kidnapped for sex by guerrillas, have subsequently been found dead with their throats cut.

Others who have managed to escape have been found to be pregnant. Algerian religious authorities are looking at issuing a fatwa (religious decree) which would allow these women, many of them just schoolgirls, to have abortions, officials said.

La Nouvelle Republique gave no estimate of women among rebel ranks who have been killed battling security forces or who have perished in houses destroyed by troops.

In the latest killings of women, Algerian dailies and security forces said Moslem rebels killed six children and four women this week in Tipaza area, 60 km (40 miles) west of Algiers.

In another development, Liberte newspaper said on Wednesday troops this week carried out a huge operation in the northeastern region of Collo, a stronghold of a rebel faction which declared a ceasefire last October.