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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Attack on Mustapha Kertali noth Authorized by AQIM

ALGIERS, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's north Africa wing said one of its fighters was behind a bomb attack on a former senior Islamist rebel in Algeria but said the assault was carried out without the approval of the group's leadership.

Al Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb said it had not planned to target Mustapha Kertali, a founder of the banned Salvation Islamic Front (FIS) and once a leading member of its armed wing, as he was not involved in attacking its fighters.

Kertali was seriously wounded on Aug. 14 when a bomb exploded under his car as he drove away from a mosque in the town of Larbaa, 30 km (18 miles) south of Algiers.

"One of our soldiers targeted Mustapha Kertali without consulting the leadership and getting its approval," the group said in a statement posted on an Islamist Web site.

"The bombing ... which we have not ordered and took place without our knowledge, is a mistake and we assume its repercussions before God and our Muslim nation."

Kertali surrendered to authorities in 2000 under an amnesty. He supported another amnesty for rebels that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika issued last year as part of a wider national reconciliation plan to draw a line under the bloodshed.

"We do not see any reason for targeting this type of people who abandon jihad under the pretext of a truce and reconciliation unless there is evidence of his involvement in the war and the killing of mujahideen," the statement added.

An Islamist uprising erupted in 1992 when the army, fearing an Iranian-style revolution, scrapped legislative elections the FIS was poised to win. Since 1992 up to 200,000 people have been killed in the conflict in Africa's second-largest country.

The Rest @ Retuters Africa

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