updated 12/10/2006 3:18:34 PM ET 2006-12-10T20:18:34

Assailants hurled a bomb and fired at two vehicles carrying employees of a subsidiary of U.S. company Halliburton near Algiers on Sunday, killing one Algerian driver, witnesses said.

The full extent of casualties was unclear.

Nine American employees of BRC, or Brown & Root-Condor, were heading from their offices to a Sheraton Hotel where they are housed in Bouchaoui, 9 miles west of Algiers, when they were attacked. Sunday is a working day in this North African country.

The Americans were in a bus following behind a security vehicle that held two Algerians. The assailants hurled a bomb at the first vehicle, immediately killing the driver and injuring the passenger, the witnesses said.

Attackers then opened fire on the second bus, which quickly turned around and headed back to the BRC offices before the gunmen dispersed. Witnesses said it appeared there were no casualties in the Americans' bus.

Algerian security officials immediately blocked off roads in the area, adjacent to a forest on the Mediterrannean coast.

Algeria is trying to pull itself out of an Islamic insurgency that started 14 years ago and has killed an estimated 150,000 people — Islamists, civilians and military. Large-scale fighting died down in the late 1990s, and Algeria is enjoying the fruits of the oil boom and increased foreign investment, but sporadic violence continues to rattle the nation.

BRC offices could not be reached for comment. BRC is a joint venture between Halliburton's Brown & Root and Condor Engineering SPA with contracts in Algeria's oil and defense industries.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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