Police officer 'throws himself on suicide bomber to protect colleagues'

Groups of militants affiliated to Isis have been carrying out attacks in Algeria

Fiona Keating
Saturday 02 September 2017 12:22 BST
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Suicide bombers have targeted police stations and government security posts in Algeria
Suicide bombers have targeted police stations and government security posts in Algeria

A policeman was killed after a suicide bomber tried to blow up a police station in western Algeria.

“The policemen on duty responded quickly, and one of them, in an act of bravery, threw himself on the assailant at the entrance of the headquarters and lost his life,” the national security directorate said. The suicide belt exploded, killing two policemen, according to state news agency APS.

The hero police officer was named as Tayeb Issawi, according to ennaharonline.com.

The attempted bombing happened on 31 August when an armed militant, wearing a suicide belt tried blow himself up in the police post in Tiaret, around 300 km (190 miles) west of Algiers.

The second police officer caught in the blast died later of his injuries, according to a police statement. A security cordon was set up by police at the scene of the explosion.

The Islamic State group’s news agency later claimed responsibility for the incident. “A martyr from Islamic State detonated a suicide vest close to the Algerian police station in the city of Tiaret,” Amaq said.

An Algerian police officer told The New Arab that the attack was connected to Jund al-Khilafa, an al Qaeda faction which had pledged allegiance to Isis. “You can be as good as you want but when it comes to suicide bombers there is nothing you can do,” he said. “You can only try to reduce damage but it is at the few seconds remaining before the attacker blows himself up.”

According to France 24, groups of militants affiliated to Isis have been carrying out recent offensives in Algeria.

“Vigilance seems to have been stepped down. We had a feeling that this was coming,” a former security services official said after the bombing.

The source, who asked not to be named, told AFP it was most likely carried out by Algerian members of ISIS who had escaped from countries where the militants were under sustained military attack.

This was the first suicide attack for several months in Algeria. A militant attempted to blow himself up at a police station in Constantine in April. In February, also in the city of Constantine, another suicide bomber died when a policeman opened fire on him, triggering the explosives belt he was wearing to explode. The attack was later claimed by Isis.

Al Qaeda in Maghreb, the group’s North Africa branch is also operating mostly in southern and eastern Algeria and target army and military forces.

Algerian security troops have stepped up their offensive against Islamic militants, killing dozens this year.

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