Eighteen killed in Algeria attack - hospital source

ALGIERS Sat Aug 27, 2011 5:41am IST

Related Topics

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Two suicide bombers hit a military barracks in Algeria on Friday, killing 18 people in one of the deadliest attacks in the North African country in recent years.

The attackers arrived by motorbike near the entrance of the barracks in Cherchell soon after iftar -- when Muslims break their daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan, a security source said.

"Of the 18 dead, there are 16 servicemen and two civilians," a hospital source said.

The town of Cherchell, home to ancient Roman ruins, lies just under 100 km (60 miles) west of the capital Algiers.

Algeria, an energy exporter in North Africa, is still emerging from nearly two decades of conflict between security forces and Islamist militant groups.

In the past few years the violence has been reduced significantly, but the militants -- who now operate as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) -- still carry out ambushes, kidnappings and occasional bombings.

One the last major attacks was in August 2008, when a bomb attack targeting a paramilitary gendarmerie training school at Issers, east of Algiers, killed 48. In June 2009, insurgents killed 18 paramilitary police officers and one civilian, according to officials, in an ambush.

Algeria has said it believes the chaos inside neighbouring Libya, and large quantities of weapons circulating there, are being exploited by AQIM, which has weapons, a safe heaven in the Sahara desert and huge sums of money earned from kidnapping.

The location of Cherchell is unusual, as attacks have usually occurred east of the capital such as in the mountainous Kabylie region, where AQIM has a stronghold.

Algeria has taken a leading role in combating AQIM, in part because the organisation is led by Algerian nationals and grew out of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, which fought a long insurgency against Algeria's security forces.

"Al Qaeda's main target is the capital Algiers but it failed to hit it, that is why it is operating around the capital," Sameur Riad, a security analyst at Algeria's El Khabar newspaper, said.

Al Qaeda's North African wing this month claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on a police headquarters in the town of Tizi Ouzou that officials said injured 29 people.

(Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian)

FILED UNDER:

Sony Cyber Attack

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Ten Years On

Ten Years On

10 years on, tsunami warning stumbles at the "last mile".  Full Article 

Exit Polls

Exit Polls

BJP unlikely to form Jammu & Kashmir govt - polls.  Full Article 

Forceful Conversions

Forceful Conversions

BJP distances itself from religious conversions.  Full Article 

Hopeful Dhoni

Hopeful Dhoni

India's new vintage nearly ready, says Dhoni.  Full Article 

Photo

Fund Raising

Flipkart raises $700 million in fresh funding.   Full Article 

Reforms Push

Reforms Push

Modi may order insurance, coal reforms if vote delayed - officials.  Full Article 

Ali Hospitalized

Ali Hospitalized

Boxing great Muhammad Ali hospitalized with pneumonia.  Full Article 

Going International

Going International

Bollywood’s Priyanka Chopra sets sights on American TV.  Full Article 

India This Week

India This Week

Some of our best photos from this week.   Full Coverage 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device   Full Coverage