/ 19 August 2008

Dozens killed in attack on Algerian police school

A suicide attack on an Algerian police school at Issers, 60km east of Algiers, killed 43 people and injured 38, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.

The attacker drove a car packed with explosives at the main entrance to the school as candidates for an entry exam were waiting outside, witnesses said.

Civilians as well as police officers were among the victims and a major security operation was under way there, they added.

The casualty figures were still provisional, the ministry said in a statement.

But it is already the deadliest attack in the country in several months, worse than the December 2007 attack in Algiers against government and United Nations buildings, which killed 41 people and injured many others.

Tuesday’s attack comes as Algeria’s newspapers reported an attack on Sunday in which Islamist extremists killed 11 members of the security forces and a civilian in an ambush in the east of the country.

That attack, in Skikda, was one of the deadliest in the recent weeks and also left about a dozen security officers wounded, newspapers Quotidien d’Oran and Liberte said.

The papers also reported that four Islamist militants were killed in the attack. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the ambush.

One bomb exploded as security forces in a convoy of three vehicles were on patrol in a mountainous area of the Skikda region. A second bomb targeted soldiers who had come to back up the security forces engaged in fierce clashes with the insurgents.

On Thursday, the military commander in the region, Abdelkader Yamani, was also caught up in an ambush in the same area.

The Islamist militants, chased by security forces in Kabylia, were trying to regroup in the nearby Skikda region, the newspapers said. — AFP