updated 6/2/2004 10:33:55 PM ET 2004-06-03T02:33:55

Insurgents ambushed an Algerian military convoy in eastern Algeria Wednesday night, killing at least 10 soldiers and wounding 45 others, medical officials said. It was the deadliest such attack this year.

The attack was apparently carried out by the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, or GSPC, which is known to operate in the region, some 160 miles east of Algiers. The group is thought to have links to the al-Qaida terrorist network.

Algeria’s official APS news agency reported the attack, but provided no casualty figures.

The military convoy was returning from a clean-up operation when it was set upon in a surprise attack by an armed group, witnesses said.

The injured, some of them in serious condition, were taken to several hospitals, including the military hospital of Algiers, the medical officials said.

Military trucks rushed to the site of the attack near Beni Ksila, in the Bejaia region, which borders the Mediterranean.

A similar ambush killed seven soldiers in February, in approximately the same location.

The GSPC and the radical Armed Islamic Group, which appears to have been all but decimated, have refused an amnesty offer by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika which lured thousands of insurgents who turned in their weapons.

Islamic insurgents have been fighting to topple the military-backed government for a dozen years. The insurgency began after the army canceled 1992 legislative elections to thwart a Muslim fundamentalist party from victory. An estimated 120,000 people have been killed.

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