IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Algeria hit by wave of bombings, six killed

Seven bombs went off almost simultaneously in Algeria on Tuesday killing six people east of the capital Algiers in an elaborate assault by suspected Islamist rebels.
/ Source: Reuters

Seven bombs went off almost simultaneously in Algeria on Tuesday killing six people east of the capital Algiers in an elaborate assault by suspected Islamist rebels.

Residents said four of the attacks targeted police stations.

“I was woken by a huge blast. I thought it was an earthquake,” said Aaref Jumaa, a resident of Si Mustafa village close to Boumerdes town 30 miles east of Algiers.

Jumaa, standing near the blast-pocked walls of Si Mustafa’s police station, said the bomb went off at 4:15 a.m. beside the building, which is directly across the street from his home.

Pools of blood lay in the gutter of the main road.

“From now on I will sleep with fear in my heart,” said a woman clearing debris from her kitchen.

An Interior Ministry statement quoted by the official APS news agency said six people, including two members of the security forces, were killed in seven attacks in the Boumerdes and Tizi Ouzou districts east of Algiers.

Thirteen people were wounded, including 10 members of the security forces, the ministry said, adding that five of the seven bombs were rigged in vehicles.

Four people were killed in Si Mustafa village while two were killed in Meklaa, it said. Other bombs blasted Draa Benkheda, Meklaa, Illoula Oumalou and Souk El Had, which was hit twice.

Islamist rebels suspected responsible
In Draa Benkheda, a resident who declined to be identified said he saw several presumed attackers filming the immediate aftermath of the blast.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks but residents said they suspected a group of Islamist rebels who have aligned themselves with al-Qaida and stepped up a campaign of bombings and ambushes in recent months.

Islamists began an armed revolt in 1992 after the then military-backed authorities, fearing an Iran-style revolution, scrapped a parliamentary election that an Islamist political party, the Islamic Salvation Front, was set to win.

Up to 200,000 people were killed in the ensuing bloodshed. The violence has sharply subsided in the past few years.

The Tizi Ouzou and Boumerdes districts are often the scene of clashes between Islamist guerrillas and security forces in the oil-and-gas-exporting Mediterranean country.

Tuesday’s attacks were the first on police stations since near-simultaneous truck bombs exploded at two police stations on Oct. 30 in the Algiers region, killing three people.

On Dec. 10 a bomb exploded beside a bus carrying foreign oil workers in an upscale Algiers suburb, killing two people and wounding eight.

That attack was claimed in a video posted on the Internet by the al-Qaida-aligned Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, the main rebel group fighting to install Islamic rule.

A statement purporting to come from the GSPC and published in Algerian newspapers also claimed responsibility for the Oct. 30 attacks. The GSPC said last month it was adopting the name al-Qaida Organization in the Islamic Maghreb.

Some security analysts believe the GSPC wants to transform itself from a domestic movement in Algeria, where it is under pressure from security forces, into an international militant force capable of striking in both North Africa and in Europe.