Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Al-Qaeda claims Algeria attacks

Al-Qaeda’s north Africa wing said it was behind two suicide attacks that killed at least 57 people in Algeria in the past two days, according to a statement posted on the internet on Saturday.

It said the al-Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb was behind Saturday’s suicide truck bombing at a coast guard barracks east of Algiers and an attack in the town of Batna less than 48 hours earlier. A total of 57 people were killed in the two attacks.

The statement said President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was originally the intended target of the bomb in Batna, 430km south-east of Algiers, but the bomber was forced detonate his device prematurely after being discovered shortly before a scheduled visit by the Algerian leader.

The bomber blew himself up among a crowd waiting to see Bouteflika, killing 20 people.

”We reiterate that the majority of those killed in this operation were from the police and security forces … and that our brother did not target innocent people as reported by the media,” said the statement, posted on an Islamist website.

The statement, whose authenticity could not be verified, said two al-Qaeda fighters carried out the operations ”in defence of Islam and the Islamic nation” and it used a truck packed with 800kg of explosives in Saturday’s bombing at the coast guard barracks in the port of Dellys, 100km east of Algiers.

The blast destroyed the barracks, killing 37 people, hospital sources said. It was seen by the government as an attempt to wreck its efforts to end 15 years of political violence.

”I heard a big blast at about eight this morning and I found out that it targeted the port of the city,” said resident Saeed Hamdaoui (28) ”Then we heard ambulances.”

Europe’s southern flank

North African countries have stepped up security coordination to counter armed groups seeking to establish Islamic rule in a region on Europe’s southern flank that depends to a large extent on oil and gas exports and tourism.

Al-Qaeda’s number two commander, Egyptian cleric Ayman al-Zawahri, referred to North Africa in a broadcast in July and said the region’s ”corrupt” governments should be removed.

Witnesses said the Dellys explosion wrecked the wooden barracks, damaged several neighbouring houses and shattered windows in nearby streets.

Soldiers armed with automatic rifles sealed off the immediate vicinity after the attack.

Authorities called on Algerians to stage rallies for peace throughout the country, Africa’s second biggest, on Sunday.

In New York, France’s United Nations ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert, current Security Council president, recalled the 15-member body’s sharp criticism of the Batna attack.

”This condemnation must obviously be reiterated with strength, after the new heinous terrorist attack committed today in Dellys,” he said.

Conflict broke out in Algeria in 1992 after military-backed authorities scrapped elections that an Islamist party was set to win. The authorities had feared an Islamic revolution.

Up to 200 000 people are estimated to have been killed. – Reuters

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Basic web lessons for South Africa: Government hacks point to...

Recent cyberattacks at the department of justice and the space agency highlight the extent of our naïveté

‘The children cannot cope any more’: Suicide in Calvinia highlights...

How Covid-19 has intensified the physical and emotional burdens placed on children’s shoulders.

More top stories

Sisters pave the way with ecobricks

The durable bricks are made from 30% recycled plastic, some of which they collect from a network of 50 waste pickers

If the inflation-driving supply strain in the US lasts, it...

In South Africa, a strong trade surplus, buoyed by robust commodity prices, will cushion our economy against pressure arising from US policy

Farmers squeezed by big retailers

It may be beneficial for consumers when supermarkets push to get the lowest price from suppliers, but it can harm the farmers

Covid-19: No vaccine booster shots needed yet

Scientists agree it is important to get most of the population vaccinated before giving booster jabs
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×