35 killed in Algerian bomb blast

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The Independent Online

A wave of explosions marred Algeria's independence day celebrations on Friday, with a bomb ripping through a crowded open-air market outside the capital, killing at least 35 people and injuring dozens.

A wave of explosions marred Algeria's independence day celebrations on Friday, with a bomb ripping through a crowded open-air market outside the capital, killing at least 35 people and injuring dozens.

The bomb at the market in Larba, nearly 15 miles southeast of the capital, was the most deadly attack in Algeria in more than two years. For a decade, radical Muslims have led an insurgency to try to topple the North African nation's military-backed government.

The bomb was hidden in the mouth of a sewer, according to reports from the scene. The blast left behind a deep crater in the earth and scattered cartons and vegetable stands. Patches of blood stained the ground.

A second bomb at a cemetery injured one person, while another injured four soldiers, reports said. Witnesses reported a fourth blast at a Mediterranean beach that slightly injured a 5-year-old.

The attacks came as Algeria celebrated its 40-year anniversary of independence from France, the North African country's former colonial ruler.

Many Larba residents blamed security forces for not keeping closer watch. Fearing independence day violence, officials reinforced security, but their efforts were largely confined to the capital.

The market bomb exploded at 9.15 am when the area was bustling with shoppers, including many young people.

A second bomb in a cemetery near Jijel, 124 miles east of the capital, injured one person. The agency initially reported that the victim died.

The handmade device went off ahead of a ceremony to honor veterans of the brutal seven-year war that led to independence.

In Tigzirt, 46 miles east of Algiers, four soldiers were injured when their truck rolled over a buried bomb.

Witnesses reported another explosion at a Mediterranean beach known as Azur Plage 20 miles west of the capital. A 5-year-old boy suffered minor injuries.

It could not be ascertained whether the blasts were the work of Islamic extremists. Algeria has not seen violence on this scale since December 1999, when militants opened fire on vehicles at a roadblock, killing 29 people.

"It's a sad anniversary," Algerian politician Said Sadi, leader of the Rally for Culture and Democracy, told The Associated Press. "We can legitimately have the feeling that it's an enormous waste."

An estimated 120,000 people have been killed since the violence started in 1992 after the army aborted legislative elections to thwart victory by a Muslim fundamentalist party.

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