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Friday, August 21, 2009

Algiera Prepares for Ramadan by Claiming AQIM success

Algerians celebrate Ramadan2009-08-21 14:19

Boumerdes - Despite ongoing Islamist militant attacks, Algerians relaxing at the seaside are more concerned by the rising cost of meat and vegetables at the start of Ramadan than security.
"Security is far from being our main concern," said Abdelalik, who sat with his wife at a seafront cafe in Boumerdes, an hour's drive from Algiers, with the Islamic fasting month to begin on Saturday.

"I'm mostly concerned about making it to the end of the month, with Ramadan coming and the start of the school year" set for September 13, he said.

Algerians spend a fortune on food for the traditional breaking of the fast, held every day at sunset during the holy month. And prices of fruit, vegetables and meat all "go up every year during Ramadan" , Abdelalik said.

But not everyone can afford the traditional sumptuous feasts, with 1.2 million disadvantaged families getting help from the state this year.
Militant attacks

"Security? That's a funny question. We don't even give it a thought," said a youth, on his way to the town's vast, parasol-spotted beach with three friends.

They walk away from further questions, preferring to make the most of the Mediterranean waters ahead of Ramadan, when daytime bathing is prohibited.

Despite the apparent nonchalance, the area around Boumerdes, along with Tizi Ouzou to the east, are classified "red" because of the number of militant attacks by armed groups including al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim).
  • Police are omnipresent on main roads, setting up checkpoints along avenues in Boumerdes which is nevertheless enjoying a real estate boom.
  • The traffic jams are hellish and resorts along the coast have had their "No Vacancy" signs out since the start of the summer holiday season.

Bombing at a beach

Right up to the last day before Ramadan, families relax in the shade of parasols on one of the beaches at Tigzirt, near Tizi Ouzou, where a policeman was killed by a bombing at a beach observation post days earlier.

The "Delphine" security plan, implemented every year to protect places of summer recreation will remain in place throughout Ramadan.

But "there will not be any special measures" because police "are mobilised throughout the year, whether during Ramadan or any other time," national security director Ali Tunsi said in the run-up the Muslim holy month.


Algerian newspapers said security forces were relentlessly battling militant groups claiming allegiance to Aqim.


Helicopter gunships

Unconfirmed reports said at least 50 militants have been killed, captured or given themselves up since the beginning of August.

A broad ground operation follows every militant attack, backed by helicopter gunships to target the scrubland where the Islamists might be hiding.

Troops regularly sweep through vast areas in the coastal region after attacks on military convoys, such as an ambush on July 29 that killed at least 11 soldiers near the popular resort of Tipaza.


The REst @ News 24/ SAPA

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