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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

AQIM - two Car Bombs in Algiers- Ben Aknoun and Hydra

ALGIERS, Dec 11 (Reuters) (Algerina French News Video)

Suspected Al Qaeda militants detonated twin car bombs in the Algerian capital on Tuesday, killing at least 26 people and possibly up to 67 in one of the bloodiest attacks since an undeclared civil war in the 1990s.

Al Qaeda's North African wing said in a statement on an Islamist Internet site that two of its members carried out the bombings in the North African oil and gas exporting country.

The group posted pictures of what it said were the two suicide bombers holding assault rifles. No independent verification of the statement was immediately available.

An official tally put the death toll at 26 and wounded at 177, while a Health Ministry source said 67 people were killed.

Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem said the government had no reason to hide casualties and that it was immoral for international media to "bid up" the death toll.

The United Nations said at least five of its employees were feared to have been killed when one blast destroyed the offices of the U.N. Development Program and severely damaged the offices of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

"I have no doubt that the U.N. was targeted," the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, told BBC television. The United Nations has a low profile in Algeria.

Algerian Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni accused the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat of being behind the attacks, using the former name of Al Qaeda's North African wing.

Al Qaeda's North African wing claimed responsibility for a similar bombing in Algiers in April and other blasts east of the capital this year that have worried foreign investors in the OPEC member state.

The White House, concerned by Islamist militancy in North Africa, described the attackers as "enemies of humanity".

One of Tuesday's blasts occurred near the Constitutional Court building in the Ben Aknoun district
  • The other was near the U.N. offices and a police station in the Hydra area. Several Western companies have offices in the two areas.
  • Students travelling in a school bus were among the casualties in Ben Aknoun, the official APS news agency said.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

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