Attackers stormed a town south of the capital Tuesday, slaughtering 40 people in a pre-dawn raid, Algerian security forces said.

Security forces were sent to investigate the massacre in Chouardia, 60 miles south of Algiers, the military said. No other details were provided.No one claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred in an area where the Armed Islamic Group, a violent anti-government organization, is known to be active.

At least 75,000 people have died as a result of an Islamic insurgency that erupted in 1992 after the military-backed regime canceled parliamentary elections an Islamic party was set to win.

International efforts to persuade the Algerian authorities to allow an independent inquiry into the violence have failed.

There has been an upsurge in violence across Algeria over the past two weeks.

Due to a rising number of rapes by Muslim militants, Algeria's religious authorities have decreed that rape victims should not be ostracized, a newspaper reported Monday.

The fatwa, or Muslim religious decree, issued by the High Islamic Council said "the raped woman is honorable" - an effort to fight the tradition that makes it difficult for rape victims to find husbands.