Insurgent ambush 'kills 24 Algerian police'
Thursday 18 June 2009
Insurgents killed 24 Algerian paramilitary police in an ambush on their convoy yesterday evening, a local newspaper reported today.
The ambush, if confirmed, would be the deadliest single attack in months in Algeria, a major oil and gas exporter fighting Islamist militants allied to the al Qaeda network.
Two Algerian security sources, who did not want to be identified, told Reuters there had been an ambush and more than 20 paramilitary police had been killed.
The Echorouk newspaper cited security sources and local people as saying the ambush took place at about 8pm on a stretch of highway between the settlements of El Meher and El Mansourah, about 110 miles east of the capital.
It said the attackers first activated two improvised explosive devices and then opened fire on the convoy. The insurgents left taking arms, weapons and six police off-road vehicles, said the newspaper.
There was no official confirmation of the attack. Algerian authorities often do not isue any formal comment when security personnal have been killed in insurgent attacks.
Algeria, which lies across the Mediterranean from Europe, has been struggling for nearly two decades to get to grips with Islamist insurgents who now operate under the banner of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Security crackdowns and a campaign to persuade the militants to lay down their arms have led to an overall decline in the number of attacks, but there has been an upsurge in violence over the past few weeks.
Insurgents killed five paramilitary gendarmes late in May and a week later shot dead nine soldiers. At the start of this month AQIM killed a British man, Edwin Dyer, after holding him hostage in neighbouring Mali.
Though the group has not targeted oil and gas infrastructure in Algeria, international energy firms - which include BP, StatoilHydro, Repsol and Total - operate under heavy security.
Diplomats say the violence also has the potential to spill over into Europe, where AQIM has a network of undercover cells providing logistical support.
The newspaper report said Wednesday's ambush was carried out on the N5 highway, a major route linking the capital, Algiers, to cities in the east of Algeria.
It said the paramilitary police who came under attack had been assigned to guard a group of Chinese construction workers building a new east-west road link across Algeria. It did not say if any of the workers had been hurt in the attack.
The ambush was a demonstration by a weakened al Qaeda that it is still a threat, said Rachid Ould Bousseafa, the deputy editor of the Echorouk newspaper who writes on security issues.
"Make no mistake: al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is declining," he told Reuters. But he said: "Al Qaeda wanted to send a strong message that it is capable of planning and executing a big attack."
peopleContenders for Time magazine's Person of the Year are a mixture of the good, the bad and the holy
newsAs the world remembers Mandela the hero, the prison where he spent 27 years seems all the more brutal
tvSteven Moffat reveals the actor was dying to take on the role of the Time Lord and says he is excited to see what he will do with the character
sportBayern Munich 2 Manchester City 3: City come from two down to beat reigning European Champions
arts + ents... and a chance to paint Booker Prize winning author Hilary Mantel
danceUnder Tamara Rojo's inspired direction, it seems possible that it could challenge the dominance of the Royal Ballet. We meet some established names and rising stars
travelDiscover Uruguay's jet-set beach resort, an Atlantic enclave with plenty of art and culture to explore on the side
The ten coldest places on Earth
Sir Ian McKellen hits back at Damian Lewis' 'fruity actor' claims
Kenyan politician Mike Sonko left red-faced after photoshopping himself next to Nelson Mandela
Krokodil in Mexico? Teenager hospitalised after 'injecting drug into her genitals'
Nelson Mandela memorial: Cheers, jeers and a masterclass from Barack Obama that stole the show
- 1 Mountain goats' miraculous escape from avalanche captured in dramatic video footage
- 2 It’s shameful that our universities have accepted gender segregation under pressure from the most oppressive religious fanatics
- 3 Sir Ian McKellen hits back at Damian Lewis' 'fruity actor' claims
- 4 Kenyan politician Mike Sonko left red-faced after photoshopping himself next to Nelson Mandela
- 5 Selfie at funeral: Cameron squeezes in on Obama snap at Mandela memorial
- < Previous
- Next >
£35000 - £45000 Per Annum on call shift allowance: Clearwater People Solutions...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + Training and Benefits : Harrington Starr: A leadin...
£59999 - £80001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Senior Manager in...
£33000 per annum + benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Qualified or Part Qualifie...