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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

10, 000 Algerian Troops Deploy to Hunt AQIM

Algeria has deployed 10,000 soldiers to search for the perpetrators of the bomb attack on 17 June, which left 18 Algerian police and one civilian dead, local media has reported.The attack, the most deadly strike against government forces in six months, took place in the central province of Bordj Bou Arreridj last Wednesday night.

The police were escorting a convoy of Chinese construction workers who are building a highway from the capital Algiers to city Mansoura, when two roadside bombs went off and attackers opened fire on the military convoy.

SITE, the American organization that monitors terrorist activity, claims that Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the regional branch of Al-Qaida, has taken responsibility for the attack.

  • Al-Qa’ida claims that 24 of its soldiers were killed and blames the Algerian army for intentionally killing the civilian.
  • So far in the hunt for the attackers, several people have been arrested and a large haul of weapons and ammunition has been seized.
  • “It’s quite strange that such a huge attack could occur; in northern Algeria terrorism has almost completely vanished,” Omar Benderra of Algeria-Watch, an organization based in France and campaigning for human rights in Algeria, told The Media Line.
  • “You need one hundred men, heavily armed, properly prepared with inside information” Benderra said.

The attack marks the latest in a string of attacks on the Algerian army, which started in August 2008 when 48 people were killed in a bomb attack on a police academy.

In May 2009, 14 policemen were killed in two ambushes allegedly carried out by Al-Qa’ida.

There was no official confirmation from Algerian authorities whether or not the latest deployment was a specific response to the recent attack or part of the wider regional campaign

Algeria launched together with Mali, Mauritania and Niger in May 2009 against terrorists based in the northern parts of the Sahara.

  • As Algeria is the strongest of the four countries, it has been providing the others with military equipment and fuel, and basics such as sleeping bags.
  • Several organizations around the globe claim to be officially sanctioned subdivisions of Al-Qa’ida but only the branch in North Africa posts videos of several high-ranking Al-Qa’ida members to back their claims.
  • Militant Islamist groups have been using parts of the Saharan desert in northern Mali as a base to hide Western hostages and launch bombing and shooting attacks in Algeria, particularly along the Mediterranean coast.
  • Algeria has been plagued with political violence since 1990, when the army rejected the election result that gave power to the Islamic party, which resulted in a bloody civil war.
The Rest @ The Media Line


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