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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Mourad Seghir Killed by Algerian Security Forces

in a car bomb targeting a police station in the centre of Tizi Ouzou Sunday morning (August 3rd). The blast came days after authorities reportedly killed al-Qaeda's principal financer in Algeria.

Residents of the city's Elkalitousse district woke up to the sound of the blast at approximately 5:00am. The police station is reportedly situated near a military barracks and a dormitory for intelligence personnel.

The explosion left 25 people injured, including four policemen. The only person to die was the suicide bomber himself, who was driving an explosives-laden car from neighbouring Boumerdès wilaya.

The bomber's body parts were strewn about the scene of the attack.
Ambulances rushed to the scene and carried the injured to the city hospital for treatment. Hospital officials said Sunday evening that 24 of the 25 injured people were discharged from the hospital. One victim underwent minor surgery.

Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni and General Director of National Security Ali Tounsi arrived to inspect the situation shortly after the bombing was announced.
Eyewitnesses said damage from the attack might have been more extensive had it taken place days ago, as the dormitory was emptied last week when agency personnel moved to a new building.

Speaking to the press, the interior minister said the intelligence agency had been targeted because of the role it played in killing several important members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) over the past two years.

Several similar attacks in recent months have been blamed on the terror organisation, led by Abdelmalek Droukdel.
  • Security experts say that with the success of Algeria's intelligence agencies in penetrating the ranks of al-Qaeda, a number of key terrorists have been eliminated.
  • AQIM second-in-command Samir Sayoud, alias Samir Abou Mosaab, was killed in April 2007. \
  • Droukdel's top aide and military advisor Ali Dix was eliminated in July of the same year.
  • In October, the authorities dismantled the terrorist cell responsible for the April 11th attacks and killed the mastermind of the operation, Zoheir Harik.
  • And in April of this year, they killed Abderahmane Bouzegza, emir of the Farouq Battalion.

The most recent elimination of a top al-Qaeda terrorist was that of Mourad Seghir, aka El Pompier, by Algerian security forces on July 31st.

A former fire fighter, 43 year old Segir was AQIM's principal financer in Algeria, security forces say. El Pompier terrorised the local population, kidnapping the wealthy and demanding taxes from the poor. Those who did not pay the ransoms or taxes were threatened with death, or their crops destroyed, sending them into financial ruin.

El Pompier and his assistant Ben Dahman Muhamad were killed early Thursday morning when police stormed the downtown Boumerdès apartment where the two were hiding. Kalashnikovs and more than 20 million dinars in ransom and blackmail money were found on the premises.

  • The interior minister noted that many of the abductees' families had opted to call the police in lieu of paying the money demanded by the terrorists.

Had all families succumbed to the threat, Zerhouni said, al-Qaeda would have collected an additional 60 million dinars.
Residents of Boumerdès were breathing easy again after hearing the news of El Pompier's death. Le Soir d’Algerie reported on August 2nd that peasants and affluent families alike were happy to finally be rid of the terrorist, particularly with the approach of the grape harvesting season, known as a time when terror groups often threaten to sabotage crops in order to extract payments from farmers.

With the elimination of El Pompier, and the July 22nd announcement by Security Director Ali Tounsi that Algerian security services would soon cover all of the country's territory, including the Kabylia region, some security experts say the suicide attack in Tizi Ouzou was an attempt by AQIM to undercut the Algerian officials' optimism about the improved security situation in the country.

Speaking to Magharebia, security expert Bouelam Ghoumrassa said that through its most recent operation, al-Qaeda wanted to confirm that it was still able to hit and target symbols of the state.
Asking if al-Qaeda was successful in its attempt to destabilise the pillars of the Algerian state, Ghoumrassa suggested that it was not.

The Rest @ Magharebia

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